Can You Sue a Driver in a Borrowed Car in Virginia?

Stephen M. Smith
Last Updated:
December 1, 2019

Drivers who are in their own cars are covered by their personal auto insurance if they are hurt in an accident. But, what happens when we drive a borrowed car or allow a friend or a family member to use our car? If we are hit by someone who is not the car owner can we sue a driver in a borrowed car in Virginia?

The key issue under Virginia law is that of permission. Virginia law deals with liability insurance under Virginia Code § 38.2-2204. It requires the driver that borrowed the car to have the permission of the owner to be protected by insurance coverage.

People who are hurt by a vehicle driven by someone with permission should experience few issues in making a claim against the car owner’s insurance policy if the other driver was to blame.

However, these cases can be complicated. It makes sense to talk to a seasoned Virginia car accident lawyer.

What Happens When an Accident Involves a Borrowed Car in Virginia?

If the driver borrowing a car has the owner’s permission, the owner’s insurance will provide coverage.  Insurance policies typically say the driver is covered if he or she has the expressed or implied consent of the person named in the policy.

If the driver who is borrowing the vehicle has their own insurance policy, this policy can provide additional coverage on top of that taken out on the borrowed vehicle.

The Virginia code also says the driver who is borrowing the car has to remain “within the scope” of the permission to be covered in the event of an accident.

This can complicate matters after a wreck. It means the person who borrows the vehicle has to abide by the owner’s terms. If the owner, for example, tells the driver he can only use the car to drive to York County and back, driving it to Washington D.C. is not within the scope of the permission. If the driver caused an accident in Washington D.C., the victim would likely not be able to make a claim on his insurance.

In scenarios when the driver is acting outside of the scope of his permission, the driver’s own insurer may argue he was not covered. It’s, therefore, a troubling scenario for any accident victims.

Use of a Parent’s Car by a Teenager?

If your teen son or daughter takes your car without permission, any accident victims are not able to rely on the parents’ car insurance policy unless the teen is included on a family policy.

However, if a teen has the parent’s permission to take the car, any victims of an accident can make a claim against the parent’s policy if the teen driver was at fault for the accident.

A more complicated scenario is when the teen loans the car to a friend. Usually, the person who borrows the car from a teen can rely on the teen’s permission to borrow the car and is covered by the parents’ insurance policy. Under a 2011, case in Virginia, a teen may even be able to rely on implied permission to borrow the car.

Virginia law also suggests the person who borrows a car or truck may be able to rely on that permission even if the parent told his or her teen the car was for their sole use.

This rule provides some redress to accident victims in cases where the person who borrowed the car believed he had permission to use it, even though it’s an alarming situation for parents.

Talk to a Hampton Lawyer About Suing a Motorist Who Caused a Crash in a Borrowed Car

In most situations, a victim can sue a driver in a borrowed car in Virginia. However, the issue of permission is key. When permission is in dispute, it may be difficult to make a claim. That’s where our Virginia car accident lawyers can help. We will explore every avenue to fight the insurance company.

At the Smith Law Center, we have helped people who are hurt in car crashes since the 1940s. Our trial lawyers take on cases involving serious injuries all the way to the courts. Please call us today for a free consultation at (757) 244-7000.

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