The go-to belief is that the driver of the vehicle is responsible for the crash. Right? That might be the wide-spread belief, but most people driving vehicles aren’t the vehicle’s owner. Children driver their parent’s cars, and spouses often hand off cars. It’s even reasonable to assume that anyone living in your household could, at some point, drive your vehicle. So who is liable in a car accident – owner or driver? An Atlanta car accident lawyer can help you with that question.
Responsible vehicle owners are no doubt careful about who they hand their keys to. But that’s not the only factor to consider. Insurance, permissive use, and whether the car is a “family car” are important things to review.
Situations To Consider
You do need to look at the overall situation. A parent handing the keys to their 18-year-old is very different from an intoxicated person sneaking the keys out of a locked bedroom. These aspects of the crash may seem irrelevant to you, but they play a critical role in deciding who will carry liability.
The example of the parent loaning their car to their adult child showcases permissive use. That person is saying that they trust this person to drive safely, follow the rules of the road, and not crash their car. In these situations, the “permissive use” driver does have coverage through the vehicle owner’s insurance.
However, if the vehicle was stolen, then permissive use is not available. No permission was given.
Minors Driving Vehicles Of Their Parents Or Guardians
Minors have either a provisional license or a permit. If the adult was in the car, or if an adult was in the car, then it’s likely that their insurance will take responsibility. When teens drive with a permit in Georgia, the state requires that a responsible and licensed adult monitor the driver.
When minors have a provisional license, they can take the car out on their own. However, insurance companies rarely cover minors without an adult taking responsibility for the minor’s action. Essentially anything a minor does fall back to the guardian’s insurance policy which covers them.
There is a situation which includes a driver and vehicle owner which don’t fall on the same insurance policy. Professional drivers may work independently through a single client, or they may work through a service. Limo drivers, taxi drivers, even Uber drivers all have different insurance policies through their employer.
For example, Uber drivers are not liable for a crash as long as they were actively on an Uber ride, and were following the rules of the road. However, if they were off-duty, then they are liable. Taxi drivers don’t have to worry about this so much because they aren’t driving the same vehicles for personal use as they are for professional use.
Then when it comes to professional private drivers, or chauffer’s the company is almost always liable. However, it really depends on the company’s policy and again, the situation. For example, if the driver was under the influence, then the company would likely not cover the crash. The example of extreme recklessness of the driver voids their coverage.
When Is It Time To Contact An Atlanta Auto Accident Lawyer?
Anytime someone who is not the driver of the vehicle is part of a crash. You should get an attorney. It’s possible that if it’s an adult, they’ll give you their personal policy information which doesn’t cover the vehicle they were driving. Or, they not have had permission to operate that vehicle.
A lawyer will go through the specifics of the case and pinpoint who should have liability as it applies to the involved insurance company’s policies. They will also go through employment conditions for professional drivers to try to find out if the driver or company is responsible.
There are extremely rare cases as well. A car owner may have previously excluded a member of their household from their policy. One example is if the vehicle owner knows that a household member drinks and drives, they may expressly have told their insurance company that they never give that person permission to use their car.
Find An Auto Accident Attorney In Atlanta
Any Atlanta car wreck lawyer should provide some guidance on who is at fault and who is liable. However, you need an Atlanta attorney with experience handling these cases to fight for you. Contacting an attorney for car crash injuries is your first step towards recovery. Compensation is something that many people believe is an easy process. That’s often not the case.
Contact us and get immediate help with your claim. We can give insight into how to handle insurance companies, other drivers, and dealing with minors. Reach out to The Weinstein Firm now to schedule a consultation.