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Who Is Liable – the Car Owner or Driver?

If you or a loved one suffered an injury in a car accident, you need an experienced Denver car accident lawyer to maximize your financial compensation in any way possible.

The first step is to prove who caused the accident. Then, you will gather the necessary evidence to show that they were at fault. Only then can you begin to talk numbers about a settlement agreement.

While you can often hold the party responsible for your injuries, others may share the blame.

You may face a particular challenge when the driver does not own the car. Here, you may need to battle multiple insurance companies as you determine liability and calculate financial compensation. When your case involves two insurance companies, it presents opportunities and pitfalls. You must be ready to navigate both during your case.

Can You Seek Compensation From Two Responsible Parties in a Borrowed Car Accident?

Sometimes, you can sue two different people for the damages you suffered in the action. Even though the car’s owner was not in the accident, you can hold them responsible for what happened with their car. The owner’s car insurance policy attaches to the car, even when the owner is not driving it.

Although their insurance company may deny claims when someone not on the policy drove the car, you may still recover compensation.

When your lawyer identifies more than one liable party, it helps your claim. You have access to more than one insurance policy. This helps if you have particularly serious injuries and costly losses. One driver’s policy limits might not cover your claim. But if multiple parties share liability, you can seek the difference of your losses from the other insurance policies.

Your attorney will handle every step of each claim with both insurance companies. You have access to greater compensation.

The Owner May Only Bear Liability When They Gave Permission to the Driver

Experience Lawyers for Car Accidents in Denver Co area.

One critical issue is whether the car’s driver had permission to use it. In most cases, the owner lends the car to the driver. However, sometimes, a driver may have stolen or borrowed a car without permission. Then, you cannot hold the owner liable. In most car accident cases, when someone else drove, they did so with permission.

You May Not Have Complete Information at the Time of the Accident

Your attorney will investigate the car accident before they file any claim. You will have received the car insurance information from the driver at the crash scene. You will not necessarily know whether they gave you their insurance information or took the card from the glove compartment of the car.

However, the driver will not have to give you a copy of the car’s registration. The police report will have the license plate numbers of both cars in the crash. A lawyer will research the car’s owner, and they will see that someone else is the legal owner. Determining ownership is a vital part of the investigatory process that a lawyer will perform before they file a claim.

Your lawyer will determine your best legal options after the car crash. Here, you will follow an established order of precedence when you seek compensation after a car accident involving a borrowed car.

The Order of Precedence in a Borrowed Car Crash

In general, you will first file a claim against the insurance policy of the owner of the vehicle. The owner’s insurance will pay you up to the coverage limits (even if the insurance company initially balks at the claim). You will file a claim against the driver’s insurance if the owner’s policy won’t cover your damages.

The combination of the two insurance policies may compensate you fully. If not, you may file a claim against your insurance policy if you purchased underinsured motorist coverage. Your insurance company will pay the balance of the damages, up to your coverage limits.

You may need to deal with three or more car insurance companies in your claim. Each may try to pass the buck to the other company so they can pay as little as possible.

You Can Hold an Employer Liable if the Other Driver Was on the Job

The situation is much more straightforward when the driver is behind the wheel of a car owned by their employer. If the driver was on the job at the time of the accident, you may hold their employer legally responsible for what the driver did. The employer will have a larger insurance policy that the driver and assets you can seize if the coverage won’t pay for your injuries. You can also file a lawsuit or claim against the driver and pursue the claims simultaneously.

You Still Must Prove Negligence in any Car Accident Case

To receive financial compensation for the car accident, you must prove the other driver’s negligence, even if they did not own the car.

To prove negligence in a car accident, you will need to prove:

  • Someone else owed you a duty of care
  • That person failed to uphold their duty by acting unreasonably under the circumstances
  • You suffered an injury
  • You would not have suffered an injury had it not been for the actions of the driver

The real key to your car accident case is the second element of the test. You need testimony or evidence that shows what the driver did or did not do that caused the crash. For example, the driver might have failed to check their blind spot when they entered your lane. They may have failed to yield the right of way when they had a legal obligation.

The Car’s Owner Is Vicariously Liable for What Happens with Their Car

You can hold someone responsible for something they did not do themselves. This is called vicarious liability, when an employer is responsible for the negligent acts of their employees.

Negligent Entrustment Cases When Lending Cars

You may sue for negligent entrustment. For example, you can sue the car’s owner for lending their car to an intoxicated person. If the car’s owner knew that the borrower had a terrible driving record, they also should have thought twice before they let that person use the car. The car owner should have paid closer attention when they lent their car to someone else.

Borrowed Car Accidents Can be Extremely Complex

When you are in an accident with a driver who was not the car’s owner, you may need to deal with multiple insurance companies, each of which does not want to pay your claim. The more insurance companies involved, the more stress and hassle you will endure.

You Need a Lawyer to Get to the Bottom of Your Case

You need a car accident lawyer in any crash. An attorney will know how to get to the bottom of your claim and determine where they need to start to get you compensation. Along the way, your lawyer may need to deal with insurance companies trying to pass the buck to each other. An attorney can hold the responsible insurance companies accountable as they cut through the red tape on your behalf.

Time is of the essence. You need to track down evidence that can prove your case and the ownership of the car. You need to battle multiple insurance companies. Your attorney will get the right to work on these tasks when you hire them.

Your Damages in a Borrowed Car Accident

In any car accident case, you may receive:

  • Economic damages that compensate you for the financial costs of the accident (medical bills, property damages, lost income)
  • Non-economic damages that pay you for your discomfort (chief of which is pain and suffering)

Before you even begin to file claims with the relevant insurance companies, you need to know how much you are seeking. You do not want to start the claims process with a low number because you rarely get the amount you are initially seeking.

Instead, your demand is an opening figure in negotiations because the insurance company will make you a very low offer. You will need to reject the low offer and counter with your figure.

Eventually, you will reach a settlement agreement that pays you and closes the case. The settlement agreement may come without the need to file a lawsuit. It can come after you have opened a court case against the responsible parties.

Money Should Not Be an Issue When Hiring a Lawyer

The one thing that will not get in the way of obtaining legal representation is money. You are not expected to come up with anything when you hire a lawyer. There is no retainer, and there are no hourly bills.

The representation agreement you sign specifies that your lawyer charges fees as a percentage of what you receive as a settlement or jury award. That is the only way they receive payment, so getting legal help will not worsen your financial situation. You do not owe your personal injury lawyer in Denver anything if you do not receive money yourself in your car accident case.

Lauren Varner, Personal Injury Attorney

Lauren is a Personal Injury Attorney. She is Colorado native who became involved with the field of personal injury long before she became an attorney. Lauren’s professional philosophy centers around good old fashioned hard work, producing quality work product, and treating others professionally, with dignity and respect at all times.

Awards and as featured on

National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 Included in TOP 40 Under 40 by The National TRIAL Lawyers in Centennial CO Varner Faddis Top Lawyers Denver Badge – 5280 Magazine American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorney Top 40 Under 40 5280 Denver Top Lawyers
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