What happens when you get into a crash with a stolen vehicle? In most car accidents, recovering compensatory damages is simple if you can clearly establish the fault and negligence. If the other driver is proven to be at-fault, you are able to get damages for your losses from the at-fault driver’s insurer. However, things get complicated when a crash is caused by a stolen vehicle. In such a case, you will need the immediate help of a reliable Augusta car accident lawyer.
Accidents caused by stolen vehicles are complicated because you are not able to recover damages easily. You will need to consider all your legal options after a crash like this to ensure you are compensated for your losses. Here is a look at different aspects of a crash involving a stolen vehicle.
Car Insurance for A Stolen Vehicle
In general, car insurance follows the car. This means that if the owner of a vehicle allows another person to operate the car, the vehicle will still be covered by the owner’s auto insurance policy. The other person in such a case is known as a permissive user. If a permissive user takes the vehicle for a ride and ends up in a crash, the victim of the crash can seek damages under the owner’s policy.
However, things work differently when the car is stolen. If a thief makes away with the vehicle and then causes an accident, the owner is no longer liable. This is simply because the owner didn’t provide express permission for the thief to operate the vehicle. In such a case, it will not be possible for you as the crash victim to seek damages from the owner’s insurance company.
Owner Liability for Stolen Vehicles
There are some exceptions to the general rules cited above. It is sometimes possible for the owner to be held liable for a stolen vehicle. In some states, an owner will be considered liable if he or she left the keys in the ignition and then a thief made away with the vehicle. This is because the owner was responsible for creating conditions that were conducive to the theft. This is known as the ‘key in the ignition’ rule.
However, this rule isn’t a part of Georgia laws. So if you suffered damages in an Augusta crash caused by a stolen vehicle, you can’t blame the owner for leaving keys in the ignition.
It is possible to hold the owner responsible and liable if you can show that the owner knew the thief, and that the thief has a history of stealing the owner’s vehicle. In such a scenario, it can be argued that the owner understood the risk posed by the thief but failed to take sufficient measures to stop it. With a good lawyer by your side, you can then establish owner liability and seek damages under the owner’s insurance policy. This was established in the Roach v. Dozier case in the Georgia Court of Appeals.
Other Legal Options
In most accidents involving stolen vehicles, it will not be possible to establish owner liability. So you will need to consider other legal options for recouping damages to cover your crash-related losses.
It is very likely that the thief will flee the scene of the accident. You can then file a claim under your own Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage if you carry it as a part of your auto insurance policy. You can also seek specific damages from your insurance company if you have collision coverage or MedPay coverage.
If the thief that caused the crash is eventually caught, you will have the legal right to file a lawsuit against the thief. But this is typically not a viable option. The thief is likely to be uninsured and may not have any valuable assets to pay for your damages. In such an event, it would be futile to spend time and money on the lawsuit. You are better off seeking damages under the coverage options of your own policy.
How Can an Augusta Car Accident Lawyer Help?
If you have suffered a car crash involving a stolen vehicle in Augusta, GA, we can help you. Here at Ted Greve & Associates, our lawyers stay in touch with the police to know when the suspect vehicle has been identified. We also conduct a thorough check to see if the owner can be held liable for the accident. At the end of the day, our aim is to help secure the maximum amount of compensation for your crash-related losses. Get in touch with us today to discuss your Augusta crash claim with our lawyers.