If my car was totaled while sitting at a red light, who is responsible for my damages since I only have liability coverage?

Another car that was speeding ran into another car and that car totaled my car. The person causing the accident ran from the scene. The owner of the car he was driving says that he did not have permission to drive this car.

Asked on February 8, 2015 under Accident Law, Alabama


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The driver who was speeding would be liable, assuming you can find or identify him (of course, he may not have money to pay, which is often a real problem).

The car's owner is not responsible IF the driver *truly* had no permission. But permission does not necessarily mean explicit or express permission this one time. If the driver had been allowed to drive the car previously and had access to it, that may be enough to hold that he was was a permitted driver--someone who was allowed to take the car when he wanted. Or if he had previously taken it without permission and the owner did nothing to secure the vehicle, the owner could be liable for being negligent or careless. You don't have to take what the owner says at face value: you could sue him, and let him prove that the driver had no permission. Among other things, if he claims this person took his car without permission but has not pressed charges for theft--since taking a car without permission *is* theft--that would undercut his claim.

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