Believe it or not, accidents involving stolen cars are a relatively common occurrence across the United States. In light of this frightening fact, you may wonder who would be liable for damages if you were hit by a stolen car, or even more concerning if you would be accountable for damages if your vehicle is stolen and subsequently involved in a collision.
As you might imagine, these cases can get very complex. Therefore, you should know your rights and responsibilities in these situations.
Here you will learn how liability works when it comes to stolen vehicles, the steps you should take if your car is stolen and how a legal professional can help you deal with this legal challenge.
What if you get hit by a stolen vehicle?
If the driver of a stolen vehicle hits you, you will most likely have to rely on your uninsured motorist insurance to obtain compensation for your damages. If you have no such coverage, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for your injuries.
Typically, the responsible driver’s insurance company would pay for your damages. However, drivers often flee the scene when it comes to stolen vehicles and cannot be easily located. And even if the responsible driver is identified, they are unlikely to have any insurance.
On the other hand, if the thief is arrested, you may be able to seek restitution for your damages as part of his plea agreement with the district attorney or through the court judgment. To learn more about this, please contact an auto accident attorney.
What about borrowed cars?
Accidents involving borrowed cars are another common occurrence. In these cases, liability will depend on whether the owner gave the driver permission to use the vehicle.
If the owner knowingly allowed the motorist to drive the car, you may be able to file a claim with the owner’s insurance company to obtain compensation for your damages. Alternatively, if a family member or acquaintance of the owner took the car without permission, the driver will be directly liable for damages.
Are you liable for a crash if your car was stolen?
Chances are that you won’t be liable for the damages caused by your stolen vehicle. Essentially, your liability will be absolved because you didn’t give your permission for the thief to use your car.
On the other hand, victims are likely to try to hold you responsible for not taking the necessary precautions to keep your vehicle from being stolen. For example, they may claim that you left the keys inside the car or parked it in a risky area. Nevertheless, these claims are often unsuccessful. However, if you fail to take the necessary steps after your vehicle is stolen, you could be held liable for damages.
What to do after your car is stolen?
According to the Insure Information Institute, about 810,000 vehicles were stolen in 2020 (the highest number since 2008!).
Even if you take all possible precautions, your vehicle could still be stolen at any time. That’s why you should be prepared to act quickly and avoid being held responsible for any damage the thief may cause to someone else after taking your vehicle.
Here’s what you should do if you discover your car has been stolen:
Verify your vehicle was stolen
Before taking drastic measures, make sure your car was actually stolen. If it’s not where you parked it, it may have been towed, or you may have loaned it to someone else and don’t remember it. Think about the possibilities; you don’t want to be accused of filing a false police report.
Call the police
Once you confirm that your vehicle was stolen, call the police as soon as possible to start the investigation process. Give the officers all the details about your car, such as license plate number, model, color, and any other information you consider relevant. Additionally, inform them of any devices that could be used to track the vehicle’s whereabouts.
Notify your insurance company
Finally, you should notify your insurer that your vehicle was stolen. If you have theft coverage, you may be able to recover the value of your vehicle and the other items inside it.
If you follow these steps, you won’t have to worry about being held liable if the thief collides with another person after stealing your car.
Call a car accident attorney for legal assistance.
If you were hit by a stolen vehicle, you may feel frustrated and overwhelmed by the challenges you will face to get compensation. However, you don’t have to deal with everything on your own.
In these cases, calling an experienced auto accident firm like C&B Automotive may be your best option.
Their experienced attorneys will guide you every step of the way toward the compensation you deserve. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to keep your peace of mind and focus on your recovery.
If you have more questions about what to do after being rear-ended by a stolen vehicle, consider calling them for a free consultation.