One of the first things to do after a vehicle accident is to call for emergency help. By dialing 911, you can quickly reach out to medical responders and law enforcement. However, you may also worry about the financial consequences of the accident. In such cases, you’ll need an Atlanta car accident attorney to help you determine the liable party in the crash.
Many times, finding the at-fault party in an Atlanta traffic accident is easy. You’ll just need to know who was drunk driving, speeding, or disobeying any road safety rule or regulation. In such cases, you can approach the vehicle owner’s insurance company for compensation for your bodily injuries and property damage. Georgia mandates every motorist to have insurance coverage for cases like this.
Unfortunately, though, your case may be more complicated if the at-fault driver stole the vehicle. As an injured victim, can you still approach the owner’s insurance company for damages? As the vehicle owner, what do you do in such situations? We’ll discuss those areas of concern in this article.
Are Vehicle Owners Liable When a Car Thief Causes an Accident in Atlanta?
Liability in stolen vehicle accidents usually depends on the cases’ specifics. Generally, however, you cannot hold the vehicle owner responsible for the negligent acts of the thief. In such cases, your personal injury lawyer will help you with viable options to get damages for your injuries.
If possible, your attorney can pursue a claim against the car thief since their negligence caused the accident. As a vehicle owner, you may also look to your physical damage insurance for compensation in those situations. Under physical damage insurance, you get compensation for damages to your vehicle due to theft, fire, etc.
Does Georgia Apply the “Key in the Ignition” Statutes?
In some states like Michigan, the owner of a stolen car may be responsible for damages in an accident. Under the “key in the ignition” doctrine, vehicle owners are liable for car theft due to their negligent actions. For example, if you left your keys in the ignition or plain view, you’re exposing your car to theft. In such situations, the doctrine holds you accountable for creating a conducive condition for your car theft.
While Georgia doesn’t apply this doctrine, you may still be liable under another similar rule — the foreseeability of theft. Here, you’ll bear responsibility for a stolen vehicle accident if you could reasonably foresee your car theft. In other words, you could have reduced your chances of having a stolen vehicle but neglected to do so.
How About the Permissive Use Doctrine?
Apart from theft, there are other ways your car can get in an accident in your absence. For example, your family member may have driven your vehicle and caused a crash while at it. Your liability in such situations will depend on the application of the permissive use doctrine.
Under the permissive use doctrine, you’re responsible for an accident someone caused while driving your car with your authorization. Such permission may be direct, like when you asked your friend to drive your vehicle to the grocery store. It may also be implied, for example, where you keep your car keys lying around for your siblings to use.
How Can I Report My Stolen Vehicle in Atlanta?
Once you notice that your vehicle has been stolen, you must immediately report the incident to the police. This can increase your chances of finding the thief, especially if they caused an accident. It can also serve as viable proof of a stolen vehicle during settlement negotiations with your insurance company.
When reporting your stolen vehicle, you’ll need to provide the following documents:
- Vehicle’s license and identification numbers
- The name you registered the car with
- The vehicle’s model, make, and year
Call an Atlanta Vehicle Accident Lawyer Immediately!
Determining responsibility in a stolen vehicle accident can be difficult for a vehicle owner or vehicle accident victim. In addition, if the car thief escapes the accident scene, you may be confused about how to recover damages. Fortunately, you don’t need to worry if you hire a traffic crash attorney.
At The Weinstein Firm, our personal injury attorneys will provide you with the best legal solutions for your case. In addition, we’ll ensure that you get ample compensation for your bodily injuries and property loss, no matter the situation. The best thing is that we guarantee 100% client satisfaction, and you don’t need to pay any upfront fee. So, schedule a free consultation with us as soon as possible.