I Was in an Accident in Someone Else’s Car. Now What?

accident in someone else's car

Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be confusing and stressful. When you get into an accident in someone else’s car, the process can be even more complicated and messy, both from an insurance standpoint and an emotional one. Establishing who is responsible for damages and trying to obtain fair compensation for your losses can put a strain on your relationship with the owner of the vehicle. Find out how to navigate this tricky legal situation with help from the Albuquerque personal injury lawyers at Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys.

Whose Car Insurance Pays for Damages After the Accident?

New Mexico, like most states, uses the at-fault system of car insurance. In general terms, this means that the driver who is responsible for causing a traffic accident (and by extension, their insurance company) is held financially liable for property damage and bodily injury to other drivers and passengers involved in the crash. But when it comes to an accident in someone else’s car, it’s a little more complicated. 

If You Were Driving Someone Else’s Car

If you were driving someone else’s car when you got into an accident, your insurance, the vehicle owner’s insurance, or another driver’s insurance may have to pay for damages. In some cases, multiple parties may be responsible. Who will ultimately be liable depends on the following factors.

If The Accident Was Your Fault

If you cause an accident in someone else’s car that you were driving, the insurance policy covering said car will generally pay for damages (up to the policy limit). So if you cause a rear-end collision that results in damage to the other driver’s bumper in addition to minor injuries to the other driver, the insurance company of the person whose car you were driving should cover them through their bodily injury liability and property damage liability policies.

As for damage caused to the vehicle you were driving, the owner’s insurance coverage may pay for the damages if they carry collision coverage. If they do not have collision coverage or if their policy limits are exceeded by the amount of damage and extent of injuries in the accident, there’s a good chance that your own personal car insurance will be responsible for shouldering the rest of the bill.

If you were injured in an accident you caused in someone else’s car, the owner’s insurance may cover your injuries, but only if they have optional MedPay coverage. If you carry MedPay coverage for your own insurance policy, you may be able to file a claim through your own insurance instead.

If the Accident Was Caused by Someone Else

accident in someone else's car

If you were driving someone else’s car and were involved in an accident that was not your fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance will be responsible for both property damage to the vehicle you were driving and any injuries you sustained in the accident. If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, damage to the car you were driving may be covered by either the owner’s collision insurance or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (if they purchased these optional coverages).

Again, if the vehicle’s owner has MedPay coverage (or you carry MedPay coverage on your own insurance policy), you can utilize this coverage to pay for your injuries regardless of who caused the accident.

Note: If you and another driver are both found to be partially at fault for the accident, you may recover a certain percentage of compensation per New Mexico’s comparative negligence statute.

If You Didn’t Have Permission to Drive Someone Else’s Car

In order to be covered by another person’s car insurance, in most cases you need to have permission to drive their vehicle in the first place. You can establish that you were permitted to drive the car in one of the following three ways:

  • You are a member of the car owner’s household (i.e., a spouse, partner, parent, child, etc.) 
  • You are listed as a covered driver on the auto insurance policy
  • The car owner gave you express permission to borrow their vehicle

If you took someone’s car without their permission and then caused a New Mexico traffic accident, there’s a very good chance that the vehicle owner’s insurance company will deny the claim. In this case, either you or your insurance company will be responsible for all damages and injuries stemming from the accident.

If You Were a Passenger in Someone Else’s Car

Who pays for damages may also vary if you were in an accident as a passenger in someone else’s car. Generally speaking, passengers cannot be held liable for car accidents unless they intentionally try to distract the driver or attempt to physically take control of the car. In most cases, any damages or injuries you incur as a passenger will be paid for by either the driver of the vehicle you were in or the driver of another vehicle who caused the accident.

If Your Driver Was At Fault

If you were in an accident in someone else’s car as a passenger and they caused the crash, their insurance company will be responsible for compensation for any injuries sustained in the accident, as well as any damage to your personal property in the vehicle. You’ll be covered by their bodily injury liability as well as property damage liability. If the cost of your injuries exceeds their policy limit, you may also file a claim with your personal auto insurance if you have MedPay coverage.

If Another Driver Was At Fault

accident in someone else's car

If another driver caused the accident, you should be compensated by the at-fault driver’s insurance. If they are uninsured or underinsured, you could be compensated by the insurance company of the driver whose car you were in (if they have optional uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage). You may also file a claim with your own insurance company if you have this type of coverage on your policy.  

Legal Help for Those Injured in Someone Else’s Car

If you or someone you love was injured in an accident in someone else’s car, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other damages. Whether you were driving someone else’s car with their permission or injured as a passenger due to someone else’s negligence, it’s crucial that you understand your legal rights. 

If an insurance company is trying to deny your claim or pressuring you to accept a low-ball settlement, make one call that’s all to Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys. Our experienced car accident lawyers will review your case for free, with no obligation to hire us. Don’t miss out on the compensation you deserve after an injury—call us 24/7 at 505-544-4444, connect with a representative online using our LiveChat feature, or send us a quick message by filling out this form. The call is free, the consultation is free, and there’s no fee until we win your case.

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.