Can I Be Liable If I Loan My Car to Someone and They Cause an Accident?

driver loaning car to a friend and family memberWhen you loan your car to a friend or family member, there is a risk that he or she could get into a car accident. If it does happen, it is important to know whether you may be held liable for damages. There are multiple factors that may affect liability and the amount paid out to cover damages.

Sigman Janssen discusses these factors in further detail below and what you should be aware of if you decide to lend your car out. We have helped many accident victims pursue maximum compensation and recovered millions for our clients. This includes a recovery of $2 million for a young adult injured in a highway accident. An initial consultation with a member of our legal team is free and confidential.

Insurance Follows the Car, Not the Driver

When lending someone your car, you are also lending him or her your auto insurance. This is because most insurance policies follow the car, not the driver.

In the event of an accident, your auto insurance would act as primary coverage. This is true even if the driver has insurance. If you let a friend borrow your car and he or she causes an accident, your auto insurer would be responsible for paying for damages to the other driver and his or her passengers, up to the limits of your policy. If damages exceed your policy limits, your friend’s insurance would act as secondary coverage.

If your friend is not to blame for the accident, the other driver’s insurance would be expected to pay for any damages caused. This is the standard procedure in at-fault insurance states.

Auto Insurance Coverage and Permissive Use

Generally, anyone living in your household will be covered by your auto insurance. This could also include anyone who borrows your car, provided you gave him or her permission. This is in accordance with state law. Permissive use means giving a friend or family member consent to drive your car. In some instances, an adult resident of your household can give him or herself permission to operate your vehicle and be covered by your insurance.

If you lend your car to a friend, roommate or neighbor, or someone not listed on your policy, they would be covered if they were driving your car periodically and not on a regular basis. Otherwise, that individual should be added to your policy.

That is why it is important to know what is included in your policy and your liability if you lend your car to someone. If you are still not sure about the terms of your policy after an accident, it is best to speak with an experienced lawyer who can review your auto insurance coverage and discuss your options.

What If My Car Was Taken Without Consent?

This would be deemed non-permissive use. It can be challenging to prove that you did not give a friend or family member consent to use your car. Unless there are clear indications that you denied permission, the insurance company will assume that you gave permission.

In some cases, you may not be responsible for damages if your car was stolen and involved in an accident, someone borrowed your car without permission and caused an accident, or you excluded someone in your household from coverage under your policy and he or she takes your car regardless.  

Protecting Yourself When Lending Out Your Car

It is always a risk to lend your car to someone else, but there are things that can be done to protect yourself. Use extra caution and make sure that the individual who borrows your car has a valid driver’s license and understands his or her responsibilities while on the road.

Trusting someone with your car is also important. If you know that a friend or family member can be reckless or unsafe on the road as a driver, you may want to think twice before handing over your keys. If you negligently entrust a person with your vehicle (they are an unlicensed or inexperienced driver or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you can be personally liable for that negligent entrustment.

You should also make sure to have a copy of your vehicle registration and insurance information in the glove box and let the individual who is driving your car know where it is located.  

Reach Out to Our Firm Anytime, Day or Night

Our licensed Green Bay car accident lawyers are available to provide answers to your legal questions. This includes discussing your options if you loaned your car to someone and they cause an accident. We are prepared to determine whether you have a valid claim in a free, no-obligation consultation.

Should we represent you, there are no upfront fees to get started and no fees while we work on your case. We only get paid for our legal services if we help obtain compensation on your behalf.

Sigman Janssen. Free Case Reviews. (877) 888-5201.

Establishing Liability for an Accident When Merging or Changing Lanes

merging or changing lanes on wisconsin roadwaysMerging onto a highway or changing lanes on a busy road can be quite dangerous. Drivers may speed up or not use their turn signals when approaching multi-lane roads or when switching lanes. Unfortunately, these actions could potentially result in an accident, causing serious injuries and significant property damage.

Read on to learn more about how liability in these accidents is established and what damages you may be able to obtain compensation for. Do not hesitate to contact a Green Bay car accident lawyer from our firm to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your claim further.

Why a Merging or Lane-Change Accident Occurs

Accidents when merging or changing lanes can occur for many different reasons. Drivers could misjudge the distance between cars or the nearest car to merge or enter a lane. Drivers could also fail to safely merge into traffic, causing them crash into another car.

Other ways an accident can occur when merging or changing lanes include:

  • Merging too slowly or quickly from the on-ramp
  • Changing lanes but failing to use a turn signal
  • Going across multiple lanes of traffic at one time
  • Cutting off other cars

These accidents can cause a variety of injuries, including:

  • Whiplash
  • Fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Brain trauma

Who Could Potentially Be Held Liable?

In most cases, the driver merging or changing lanes is deemed liable in an accident. Wisconsin law states that a driver entering a highway are required to yield the right-of-way to all approaching cars already traveling on the highway.

This means that drivers merging onto U.S. 141 or I-41 in the Green Bay area and elsewhere in the state do not have the right-of-way and are required to adjust their speed to find a safe gap in traffic.

Driver who do not drive at the appropriate speed or hit others car already in a traffic lane could potentially be held liable for any accidents that cause injuries and damages.

However, there are a few exceptions. For instance, a driver may have been aggressive and purposely hit a merging driver because he or she believed the driver was cutting him or her off.  A driver may have been changing lanes at the same time another car was also attempting to merge. 

Additional exceptions may include drivers speeding, driving in a distracted state or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. More than one driver could be liable in these situations.

Not every accident is the same, which is why it is in your best interest to have your claim evaluated by an experienced lawyer. He or she can help determine the cause and liability associated with the crash.

Avoiding a Crash When Merging or Changing Lanes

As a matter of public safety and courtesy, Wisconsin drivers on multi-lane roads are encouraged to change lanes or adjust their speed to create space for merging cars, but it is not a legal requirement.

When merging onto a highway, you should try to be at or near the speed of approaching cars, use your turn signal and avoid squeezing into a gap in traffic because it gives other cars less time to react. 

Most accidents happen when drivers try to force their way into traffic instead of yielding the right-of-way. To help avoid being involved in a merging or lane-change accident, be sure to:

  • Use your turn signal to show your intent to merge or change lanes
  • Gradually merge or change lanes to not startle other drivers
  • Switch lanes to get out of the merging lane if you have space to do so
  • Maintain a safe distance to allow other drivers to merge or change lanes 

Speak to a Licensed Attorney Today

If you have been injured in an accident, our attorneys at Sigman Janssen are available to assist you. We are ready to investigate what happened, establish who was most likely liable and handle all communications and negotiations with the insurance company to seek fair compensation for you.

An initial consultation is 100 percent free with no obligation to move forward. We charge nothing up front to utilize our services and only get paid if we help you obtain compensation.

Sigman Janssen. A Firm You Can Trust. Ph: (877) 888-5201

Who is to Blame for a Left-Turn Accident in Wisconsin?

driver turning left at an intersectionMany accidents happen when drivers are making a left-hand turn. Most of the time, the driver turning left must yield to oncoming traffic before crossing an intersection and for this reason, the turning driver is often found at fault in a crash. There are certain cases, however, when the other driver may be to blame.

If you have been injured in a left-turn accident, do no hesitate to contact an Appleton car accident lawyer from our firm. We have decades of experience conducting accident investigations and gathering supportive evidence to build strong claims for compensation. Our consultations are 100 percent free.  

Causes of Left-Turn Accidents

Left-turn accidents are often caused by a driver who does not follow Wisconsin’s right of way laws. State law requires drivers turning left to yield to oncoming traffic and only turn when traffic has cleared, and it is safe to do so. This is true at a green light and at an intersection without a traffic light.

Drivers turning left onto a roadway, alley or driveway, or making a left U-turn must also yield to oncoming traffic. Although oncoming traffic does not need to slow down or stop for any driver making a left-hand turn, all drivers must be attentive and take evasive actions if able.

Aside from a failure to yield the right of way, these accidents can also happen when drivers turning left:

  • Misjudge the speed of oncoming traffic
  • Try to beat the light or other drivers approaching
  • Miscalculate the distance across the intersection
  • Fail to signal before making a turn
  • Have an obstructed view when turning

Establishing Liability in a Left-Turn Accident

Wisconsin is an at-fault state, which means the driver who is found liable for the crash is also responsible for damages. Generally, these costs will be paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

An experienced lawyer can help establish liability in a left-turn accident by reviewing state traffic laws to see whether the driver made an illegal left turn. The location of the impact and the damage done to the vehicles involved could also say a lot about how a crash occurred.

For instance, if you were driving through an intersection and another driver made a left-hand turn in front of you, you may have attempted to swerve to avoid getting hit. If you were hit, you would likely have damage to the left front corner or left side of your car. This could help show that you attempted to avoid the crash by swerving. The other driver’s car would likely have damage to the right front corner, which could help show that the driver was not paying attention when turning left into oncoming traffic.

A lawyer can also use the services of an accident reconstruction specialist to determine how the crash happened, whether either driver was negligent, and who may have caused or contributed to the crash.  

When the Driver Turning Left May Not Be to Blame

Although the driver turning left is usually to blame for an accident, there are certain cases in which another driver may be the one at fault. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Speeding – Video footage may show the other driver was going too fast through an intersection and hit the driver turning left. He or she may be found at least partially liable for the accident.
  • Running a red light – The other driver may receive a citation for breaking the law and be liable for the crash for not stopping at the light and hitting the driver turning left with a green arrow.
  • Distracted driving – Witness statements may show the other driver was not paying attention when approaching an intersection, causing him or her to rear-end the driver turning left.
  • Impaired driving – The other driver may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he or she went through an intersection when the driver was halfway through the turn.  

Tips on How to Avoid Left Turn Accidents

Practicing good driving habits is the best way to avoid being involved in a left-turn accident. Some helpful tips to keep you and others sharing the road safe from harm include:

  • Driving defensively and not assuming oncoming traffic will yield to you
  • Adhering to the speed limit so you can make a turn with reasonable safely
  • Using your turn signal to inform other drivers that you are about to turn
  • Waiting to turn until your vision is not obstructed by the weather or the sun
  • Looking in both directions to make sure the traffic has cleared before turning
  • Leaving enough space in front of you while turning if you need to brake quickly

Get Help from One of Our Attorneys Today

The attorneys at Sigman Janssen are prepared to offer legal help after a left-turn accident. If you have been injured by a negligent driver, let us discuss your rights and potential options for pursuing compensation during a free consultation. We know what it takes to establish liability in these cases.

Contact us anytime, day or night, to get started. You are not obligated to have us represent you. We do not charge any upfront fees and only receive payment for our services if we help you obtain a recovery.

Sigman Janssen. Millions Recovered. Ph: (877) 888-5201