Letting someone borrow your vehicle might sound like a neighborly thing to do. However, there are many complicated legal issues that can arise if the borrower ends up getting into an accident and harms either themselves or other people.
At Cimarron Ridge Legal Group, we stay on the cutting edge of automobile accident law. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss any issue you have stemming from lending your car to someone else.
Whose Insurance Applies?
Insurance does not follow the driver. Instead, it stays with the vehicle. This means that if the person who borrowed your car hurts someone, then your insurance policy might have to pay claims to injured victims. You should quickly notify your insurer of the accident as soon as you become aware of it. Let them know who borrowed the vehicle and where the accident occurred.
Your insurer will attempt to establish liability for the accident. If the person borrowing your vehicle was not to blame, he or she should make a claim with the insurer of the at-fault driver. They should not make a claim on your own insurance policy.
Can a Victim Sue You?
In some situations, you might be sued for “negligent entrustment.” Colorado’s Supreme Court recognized negligent entrustment as a doctrine in the case Casebolt v. Cowan back in 1992.
The injured victim must prove certain elements before they can win a negligent entrustment case. They do not win simply because you lent the vehicle to someone who got into an accident. Instead, the injured victim must prove:
- You entrusted the vehicle to someone
- The person you entrusted it to was unfit
- You had knowledge of the person’s unfitness when you lent him or her the car
- The victim suffered physical harm
- The injuries were reasonably foreseeable to you
Of these elements, your knowledge of the borrower’s unfitness is probably the most contested. If the driver was very inexperienced, intoxicated, or a habitual reckless driver, then you might be liable for the accident.
Can the Driver Sue You?
This is an interesting wrinkle in Colorado’s negligent entrustment cases. Colorado courts have said the person who borrowed your vehicle might be able to sue you for compensation also—even though they are the ones who got into the accident!
Of course, comparative negligence might defeat this claim. If the person who borrowed your vehicle knew he was unfit to operate it safely, then his negligence will exceed your own, and you will not be liable.
For example, you might not have known the driver had just done drugs. He should know this would impede his ability to drive safely, so he should not be able to sue you for his own injuries. However, other victims could possibly still sue you.
Speak to a Grand Junction Auto Accident Attorney
Negligent entrustment cases are complicated. Fortunately, our law firm has tackled many of the hardest cases in Colorado, and we know how to win. For help with your case, please contact Cimarron Ridge Legal Group today to schedule a free consultation.