What if an uninsured driver hits you while driving an insured driver’s car?

I was rear-ended by a driver with no valid license and no insurance. He was driving someone else’s car, if the

owner has insurance are they responsible for covering the damages?

Asked on May 20, 2017 under Accident Law, North Carolina

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can try filing a claim with the vehicle owner's insurance company, but most likely the claim will be denied because that insurance company will claim the driver was unauthorized (not on the insurance policy).
Therefore, your only recourse is to sue the driver and vehicle owner for negligence.
Depending on the amount of your damages, you might be able to file your lawsuit in small claims court.
Since you did not mention any injuries, I assume your claim is only property damage.
Upon prevailing in the case, you can also recover court costs which include the court filing fee and process server fee.
You can enforce the court judgment with a wage garnishment.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, the owner of the car would be liable if he allowed the uninsured driver to drive the car, since a vehicle's owner is responsible for the accidents of an at-fault driver whom he/she let use the vehicle. (Note: the owner would not be liable if the car was stolen or otherwise taken without knowledge or permission, though he/she would likely have to file a police report for auto theft against the driver to show that this really was the case.)
If the driver had permission, then since the rear driver in a rear-ending collision is almost always held to be at fault (since he/she had the obligation to maintain such safe following distance and speed that he/she could stop in time), the owner should be liable; that means that his/her insurer should pay your reasonable/provable costs and losses. However, bear in mind that it is always voluntary to get a settlement or any payment without first suing the other side and winning; so if the insurer refuses to pay for some reason (or offers less than you are willing to take), you will have to sue, prove fault (which you should be able to do) and prove the extent of your losses. If you do this, you do not sue the insurer; you would sue the owner of the car and also the driver (just because he did not have insurance does not mean that he can't be required to pay "out of pocket"; and the more people you sue, the greater the likelihood of being paid).


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