People arguing over a car accident

Ask the Attorney: My Friend Borrowed My Car And Was In An Accident. Does That Make Me Liable?

By Greg Kohn

Some car owners do not allow anyone else to drive their cars. However, if you are willing to let a friend or other person borrow your car, you need to understand your potential liability if your friend is involved in an accident while driving your car. Our New Jersey car accident lawyer discusses this subject below, including ways to protect yourself from liability after a car accident. 

Insurance Liability vs. Personal Liability for a Car Accident in New Jersey 

Drivers in New Jersey are required to carry specific types and amounts of automobile insurance. All registered vehicles in New Jersey must have minimum amounts of:

  • Liability Insurance Coverage – Compensates accident victims for damages when you cause an accident.
  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage – Compensates you for damages if an uninsured driver causes an accident and you are injured.
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – This type of no-fault car insurance pays medical bills if you or another covered person, regardless of who caused the crash.

It is a common misconception that liability insurance stays with the driver. It attaches to the car. Therefore, if you loan your car to another person, you also loan your insurance coverage. If that person causes an accident, your insurance company could be liable for damages, likely increasing your insurance premiums for several years.

On the other hand, PIP insurance stays with the person. Therefore, your friend should be able to receive PIP benefits from their policy regardless of fault for the accident. 

If your friend caused the accident, they could be liable for any damages exceeding your liability insurance policy. 

Your Liability for a Car Accident Your Friend Causes While Driving Your Car

You should not be personally liable for damages unless you were negligent in allowing your friend to drive your car. Negligence could be allowing a drunk person to drive your car or lending a friend your car when you know their driver’s license is suspended for reckless driving.

Likewise, you could be liable for damages if you lend a friend your car and know it is unsafe. For instance, you know you need to replace the tires or the brakes do not work correctly. If these conditions cause a car crash, you could be liable for the damages of everyone in the accident, including your friend. 

There could be other situations that could create personal liability. It is wise to check with an attorney if you are unsure whether you would be liable for allowing a friend to borrow your car. Car accident claims can total thousands or millions of dollars. You do not want to be on the hook for damages. The damages in a car crash can include economic damages including medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. You could also be responsible for non-economic damages for pain and suffering. 

Get Help From an Experienced New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer

Our New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Nagel Rice LLP handle all types of car accident cases. We can help you if you were driving someone’s car when you wrecked or if someone wrecked your car. Call our office to schedule a consultation to discuss your case with an attorney.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.