Determining Liability When Someone Borrows Your Car

liability when someone borrows your carLetting a friend or family member borrow your car may seem like an innocent gesture. However, handing over the keys can have a significant impact on your insurance. Drivers need to understand their responsibilities as a car owner and the person who is borrowing your car also needs to be aware of his or her role behind the wheel and their accountability for your personal property.  

The Windsor car accident lawyers at our firm discuss certain things to keep in mind before lending your car to someone and how to make sure that this driver is taking his or her duty of care seriously. If you have been injured in a crash, find out if you are eligible for compensation in a free consultation.

The Insurance Follows the Vehicle

When you lend your car to someone and he or she is involved in an accident, any claims for damages by any other party involved will be made against your insurance policy. The crash will go on your insurance record and may result in higher insurance premiums.

Lending your car means you are lending both your driving record and your car insurance. Many drivers may be unaware of this until an accident happens.

There are certain situations in which your insurer may not pay a claim when you let someone borrow your car. These situations could include:

  • The person you lent your car to caused the crash while driving while intoxicated  
  • The person who was driving your car is excluded as a guest driver on your insurance policy
  • The person who borrowed your car has no driver’s licence or a suspended licence

If your insurer will not pay the claim due to a violation of the terms of the policy, you could be legally liable for any damages caused by a friend or family member.

Lending Your Car to a Friend

It is important as the car owner to make sure that anyone borrowing it has a valid driver’s licence. Ontario’s Vehicle Impoundment Program helps get drivers with suspended licences off the roads. Check whether a license is valid through an online service provided by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

If someone drives your car with a suspended licence, your car will be impounded. It can be held for at least 45 days if this person is also convicted with one of these violations:  

  • Driving while under the influence
  • Driving while being disqualified
  • Failing to complete measures to reinstate a suspended licence
  • Leaving the scene of an accident  
  • Driving in violation of a condition on your driver’s licence

Should the person driving your car be caught with a suspended licence for a violation under the Highway Traffic Act, your car will be impounded for seven days and you will have to pay towing and storage fees.

Lending Your Car to Someone Living With You

When you apply for auto insurance in Ontario, you are obligated to reveal the names of anyone who lives with you who may drive the car at any given time. The person’s driving record could impact how much your insurer charges you in premiums for the policy. Not sharing this information could give your insurer grounds to refuse to pay the claim in the event of an accident. This means you would be responsible for paying for any damages done to anyone involved in the crash.

How to Protect Yourself In These Situations

Before handing over the keys, make sure that you are protecting yourself by doing the following:

  • Make sure that the person borrowing your car has a valid driver’s licence.
  • Make sure you have a copy of the registration and proof of insurance in the car and let the person you lent your car to know where it is located.
  • Make sure that you agree with the person who is driving your car on how the car can be used and where the car is being driven. A written statement would be the best option.
  • Make sure that the person borrowing your car knows not to let anyone else drive the car.
  • Make sure that your car is in good working condition before lending your car to someone.

Letting a friend or relative borrow your car is an important decision to make. You want someone who is trustworthy with a clean driving record that follows safe driving practices.  Anyone who might be irresponsible with your car could negatively impact your driving record and car insurance.  

We Are Available to Help

If you need legal help after a car accident, do not hesitate to contact our experienced legal team at Greg Monforton & Partners. Crashes that involve lending someone your car can become a serious legal issue.  We are available to help anytime over the phone or through our online services.

A consultation with us is free and there is no risk or obligation to have us represent you. Should you have a valid claim, we offer no upfront fees for our services. You only pay us if you obtain compensation.

Contact our office today by calling (866) 320-4770.