If my friend drove my parent’s car without permission and got into an accident, what should I say to the insurance agent so that my dad’s insurance rate won’t go up?

And so that all of the liability for the accident won’t go on him?

Asked on November 18, 2014 under Accident Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you are willling to report your friend for car theft, you can possibly avoid liability going to your father: a driver is not responsible for accidents caused by someone who stole his car, and taking a car without permission *is* stealing it. Of course, this is a case of "in for a penny, in for a pound,"--to use this as a defense to liability, you or your father would have to file a police report and be wiling to press charges for theft. You can't do it halfway: you can't tell the insurer the car was taken without permission, then not follow-up with the authorities. (If you try to do that, the insurer may believe that you are lying and trying to commit some sort of fraud, and you could face legal penalties.)

Otherwise, if the car was not stolen--if it was taken with the permission of either the owner (your father) or of someone who him/herself had permission to use the car (e.g. if you could use your parent's car, and you let the friend use it), then the car's owner is liable for the accident; car owners are generally liable for the acts of those who use their cars with permission.

If your father is liable and has to pay anything out of pocket, he could sue your friend to recover those amouns from him or her.

 


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