What can I do if my uninsured roommate took my car without permission and totaled it?

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What can I do if my uninsured roommate took my car without permission and totaled it?

She was drunk and high (as admitted to police and according to hospital paperwork). My insurance covered the other car she hit. However, now my auto lender is coming after me to settle the car, the state wants money for the pole she hit, and the DMV wants money for registration back-pay since the insurance company didn’t filed the correct paperwork to say the car is gone. Am I responsible to pay all this money back? My biggest concern is with my lender as that amount is the largest – I still owed over $7k – can they come after me to pay the remaining amount due for the car?

Asked on January 10, 2016 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If she had your permission--even your implicit permission (as in she was allowed to borrow your car when she wanted, without having to ask each time), you are liable for all costs and damage she did. If she stole your car, you are not liable for the damage to the pole or the other car, but you'd have to press charges against her for theft. Stealing a car is a crime; if you don't press charges, no one will treat this as a theft.
You are responsible for the remaining balance of your car loan--even when a car is stolen or totalled, the lender it entitled to its money. You can sue her for the money, since she was at fault in causing the car's loss (DUI), but you'll still have to pay your lender--i.e. you must pay them, but can try to recover the money from her (assuming she has money). If the insurer messed upon the DMV paperwork, the insurer should have to pay that cost, and you can sue them (maybe in small claims court) if they won't pay voluntarily.


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