The Harrison
Law Group, P.C.

Am I Liable if Someone Steals My Car and Gets in a Car Accident?

January 27, 2022

Learning that someone has stolen your vehicle and used it to injure someone can be devastating. You are probably concerned whether the injured person can hold you financially liable for the damages they sustained due to the at-fault driver’s actions. If someone steals your vehicle and gets into an accident, you will probably not be liable for the damages that result. 

However, if the policy limits do not cover the injured party’s damages, they may pursue your insurance company for additional compensation. In that case, you will need to provide evidence that the person who stole your vehicle committed a crime, making them responsible. One of the best things you can do is reach out to an experienced New York personal injury attorney who can help you protect your rights and guide you through the process.

What to Do When You Discover Your Car is Missing

In many cases, when a vehicle is missing, a family member or friend has borrowed it without the owner’s permission. If you notice that your vehicle is missing, reach out to your spouse, your older children, and anyone else who may have access to your car keys. If that is not the case, consider whether you left it parked in a different place than you normally do and forgot the location of your vehicle. Take action right away to determine whether your car has been stolen.

As soon as you know that your vehicle has been stolen, you should call the police and report the theft. Include as many details as you can, such as a license plate number, make and model, and where you left your keys. Tell the police what personal items were in the car and the date and time of the car’s last location. 

You should also call your auto insurance company and report the theft as soon as possible. This is a crucial step that will help you avoid being responsible for any damages. If you skip this step, your insurance company may try to hold you financially responsible for the damages caused by the car seat. Give the insurance company the same details you provided to the police.

What if My Family Member or Friend Stole My Car?

If a family member or friend takes your vehicle without your permission, you probably will not be liable even if they are responsible for a car accident in your car. However, if you gave someone permission to take your vehicle and that person is not covered in your auto insurance policy, you may have some financial responsibility for the accident. The best way to protect yourself is to know your insurance coverage before a theft of your vehicle occurs. Check with your insurance company to make sure you understand what liability risks you will incur if someone else steals your car and gets into an accident.

Am I Eligible for Compensation When Someone Steals My Vehicle?

As long as your vehicle is covered, your insurance company will probably begin an investigation into your claim of theft. They will want to make sure that your vehicle really was stolen and there is not any fraud involved. If you find your vehicle and it is damaged, but able to be repaired, your insurance company will probably reimburse you for the damages. 

Again, the amount of coverage you will have depends on the details of your insurance policy. If your vehicle is located but cannot be repaired or  you cannot find your vehicle, the insurance company will probably label your vehicle as a total loss. In this case, your insurance provider should reimburse you for your vehicle’s current market value.

New York’s No-Fault System

In New York, if you permit another person to drive your vehicle, your insurance policy will typically cover damages such as expenses and lost wages if the person who borrowed your car is in an accident. because New York is a no-fault insurance state, your insurance company will cover the car accident regardless of who is at fault. Keep in mind that your insurance policy may not cover all the damages, so there is a risk that you may have to pay for some of those damages yourself out of pocket.

The Person Who Stole Your Car Will Typically be Responsible for Damages

If you did not give the person who took your vehicle permission to drive your vehicle, your insurance may not cover the damages that result from the accident. If you can prove that your vehicle was stolen, you typically won’t be liable for any damages or injuries that the car thief causes while driving your car. However, there are some limited exceptions in which you may be liable. 

For example, if you leave your vehicle unattended in a high-crime area, it is possible that you could be liable for damages that the thief causes. Suppose you leave your vehicle with keys in the ignition while running into the gas station. If someone steals your vehicle while you are in the gas station and causes an accident, you may be at risk of paying damages. Our attorneys can help you gather the evidence you need to show that your vehicle was stolen and that you were not leaving it vulnerable to theft at the time. 

About Harrison Law Group, P.C.

The Harrison Law Group, P.C. is a well-known, and respected personal injury law firm who is exclusively dedicated to handing a wide range of personal injury cases which include but are not limited to motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, traumatic brain injuries, serious and catastrophic injuries, soft tissue injuries, construction accidents, and many other injury cases.

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