Am I Liable If Someone Steals My Car and Is in an Accident?
Finding out that somebody has stolen your car is alarming. However, finding out that your stolen car has caused an accident can cause you terrifying distress.
Fortunately, the best Glendale auto accident lawyer says that you’re generally not liable for the damages.
But you need to know when you can become responsible, and what to do when somebody steals your car.
Who Is Liable When a Stolen Car Causes an Accident
In general, a car thief is liable when the car they have stolen ends up causing damages and injuries in an accident. The car owner and car insurance provider wouldn’t be responsible because the Permissive Use Doctrine isn’t applicable in such a case.
The Permissive Use Doctrine only applies when another person drive’s your car with your permission. For example, you let your teenage child drive your car, and they cause an auto accident.
In this case, you and your insurance provider would be partially liable.
Now, a car thief doesn’t have permission to drive your car. That’s why the injured party can’t claim compensation from you and your insurance carrier.
However, you need to prove that the driver is a thief who didn’t have your permission.
A professional Glendale auto accident lawyer can help you with that.
When Is the Car Owner Liable for an Accident Involving a Stolen Car
Generally, you’re not liable when somebody stole your car and got involved in an accident. However, you’re accountable when your negligence played a role in the theft incident.
For example, you stopped near a convenience store to buy coffee. However, you left the key in the ignition of your car and the front door unlocked.
That makes your car a prime target for thieves nearby.
That’s why it’s your responsibility to secure your car before leaving it unattended.
Park it in a safe area, remove the keys from the ignition, and be sure to lock the doors.
What to Do When Somebody Has Stolen Your Car
Follow these steps immediately after you find out that somebody has stolen your car.
It has to be before the thief drives your car and gets involved in an accident.
Report the Car Theft Incident to the Authorities
You have to first go to the police and immediately report the car theft incident. This step is critical when proving that you’re not liable when the thief causes an accident.
Moreover, car insurance providers won’t approve car theft claims without police reports.
Prepare to give information like:
- Location and time of the incident
- Brand, make, model, and year of your car
- License plate number
- Vehicle identification number
- Color and distinguishing features
The police may also ask if your car has GPS features to track it faster.
Report the Theft Incident to Your Car Insurance Provider
Next, report the theft incident to your insurance carrier. If you have Comprehensive Car Insurance, it can cover your missing vehicles.
This step is also critical to protect yourself when the car gets in an accident while away from you.
Prepare these details when connecting with your insurance provider about a stolen car:
- Vehicle title
- Car description
- Last known location of your car
- Personal items that were in the car
- Where the car keys are
- Contact details of your car financing or leasing company
The insurance company is likely to investigate before releasing your claim. Be consistent with all your statements, from those given to the police to those given to the insurance company.
Talk with an Auto Accident Attorney in Glendale
Losing your car to a thief can lead to terrifying situations, especially when it gets into an accident.
That’s why you need to report a stolen car to the authorities and your insurance carrier right away. It protects you from legal responsibilities and helps you get your vehicle back.
Moreover, call a Glendale auto accident lawyer to defend you when the thief gets involved in a car wreck.