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Liability For Damages When Car Stolen

Discussions relating to Personal Injury Law

Liability For Damages When Car Stolen

Postby Kaiser » Wed Nov 16, 2016 6:58 am

A guy who stole a car slammed into my nephews truck. The insurer of the vehicle says they won't pay for the damages because the thief did not have permission to use the vehicle. The owner of the vehicle had left the keys in the car.(In my opinion, leaving the keys in the car pretty much gives permission for anyone to use it.) Regardless, shouldn't the owner of the vehicle be responsible for damages caused by his vehicle - regardless of who was driving it? Is there any recourse if the insurance doesn't cover his damages? Can he sue the owner of the vehicle personally for recovery of the damages?

ANSWER: Tina,   The answer to your question relies upon how a jury would decide on the issues of negligence.  It is possible to allege gross negligence against the owner of the vehicle for the reckless abandon they demonstrated by leaving the keys in the vehicle.  I cannot properly explain the answer to your question without giving you a long lesson on how the law and negligence theories work.  Your case hinges on how negligent the owner of the vehicle was.      Now, it is common for an insurance company to deny on grounds of non-permissive use, and this denial is valid.  The denial could be valid no matter if the keys were left in the vehicle if the insurance company and other party could prove that leaving the vehicles in the car was not a reckless act.  For instance, if you live way out in the country, it is common to leave your keys in the vehicle, and that does not constitute negligence in those areas.  On the other hand, if you leave your keys in the car in Dallas or New York or Chicago or something like that, then you might be held to be grossly negligent for any damages that arise out of the theft that you negligently contributed to.  I hope this helps you to figure out what to do.  We are available to discuss your case for free by telephone if you really want to get in depth on the subject.  Information is always free at Petty Details, LLC, google it.    The only other way to get your money is to followup with the police and prosecuting attorney on the theft case and request restitution in the formal manner.  Prosecutors should follow up on this stuff, but normally they just want a conviction and if there is too much money to be paid back, they can't cut good plea deals and keep their conviction rate high.  Don't count on them automatically making the thief pay back damages.  Anyway, I wish you good luck, don't give up.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Thanks for your(depressing)answer.My next ques. is:since the driver(thief) was obviously not insured to drive the stolen car,can my nephew collect on his "uninsured driver"policy?thank you.

ANSWER: Your brother has no claim anywhere since he doesn't own the vehicle.  Even if he owned the vehicle, the uninsured motorist coverage is for damage caused by collision with "another" vehicle when the "other" vehicle is at fault.  It would not cover damages to your vehicle due to your driver's negligence, but the comprehensive coverage might cover it if the vehicle were reported stolen.  It is advised to check your policy provisions closely to find out if there may be a way to get this covered.  I am not optimistic.  I hope the vehicle owner and your brother don't get sued by the person that the girlfriend hit.  This situation can be messy.  Once again, sorry my input doesn't give you a fix.  The bottom line is that the law hold the owner of a vehicle responsible for the use of the vehicle(as it should be), so if you let someone use it you should be willing to cover their liability in operating the vehicle.  You might benefit by googling "scope of permissive use" which might help you defend yourself from liability for the girlfriend's actions.  Anyway. . . JP

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

JP - I think you may have gotten your response to the follow up question mixed up with another.

My follow up question was regarding my nephew's truck being hit by the driver of a stolen vehicle: Should my nephew's "uninsured motorist" coverage pay for the damages to his vehicle, which were caused by the "uninsured driver"(the car thief) of the car that was stolen(the vehicle at fault)? Thanks for your thoughts.

TMH
Kaiser
 
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:44 pm

Liability For Damages When Car Stolen

Postby Delany » Thu Nov 17, 2016 10:52 am

A guy who stole a car slammed into my nephews truck. The insurer of the vehicle says they won't pay for the damages because the thief did not have permission to use the vehicle. The owner of the vehicle had left the keys in the car.(In my opinion, leaving the keys in the car pretty much gives permission for anyone to use it.) Regardless, shouldn't the owner of the vehicle be responsible for damages caused by his vehicle - regardless of who was driving it? Is there any recourse if the insurance doesn't cover his damages? Can he sue the owner of the vehicle personally for recovery of the damages?

ANSWER: Tina,   The answer to your question relies upon how a jury would decide on the issues of negligence.  It is possible to allege gross negligence against the owner of the vehicle for the reckless abandon they demonstrated by leaving the keys in the vehicle.  I cannot properly explain the answer to your question without giving you a long lesson on how the law and negligence theories work.  Your case hinges on how negligent the owner of the vehicle was.      Now, it is common for an insurance company to deny on grounds of non-permissive use, and this denial is valid.  The denial could be valid no matter if the keys were left in the vehicle if the insurance company and other party could prove that leaving the vehicles in the car was not a reckless act.  For instance, if you live way out in the country, it is common to leave your keys in the vehicle, and that does not constitute negligence in those areas.  On the other hand, if you leave your keys in the car in Dallas or New York or Chicago or something like that, then you might be held to be grossly negligent for any damages that arise out of the theft that you negligently contributed to.  I hope this helps you to figure out what to do.  We are available to discuss your case for free by telephone if you really want to get in depth on the subject.  Information is always free at Petty Details, LLC, google it.    The only other way to get your money is to followup with the police and prosecuting attorney on the theft case and request restitution in the formal manner.  Prosecutors should follow up on this stuff, but normally they just want a conviction and if there is too much money to be paid back, they can't cut good plea deals and keep their conviction rate high.  Don't count on them automatically making the thief pay back damages.  Anyway, I wish you good luck, don't give up.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Thanks for your(depressing)answer.My next ques. is:since the driver(thief) was obviously not insured to drive the stolen car,can my nephew collect on his "uninsured driver"policy?thank you.

ANSWER: Your brother has no claim anywhere since he doesn't own the vehicle.  Even if he owned the vehicle, the uninsured motorist coverage is for damage caused by collision with "another" vehicle when the "other" vehicle is at fault.  It would not cover damages to your vehicle due to your driver's negligence, but the comprehensive coverage might cover it if the vehicle were reported stolen.  It is advised to check your policy provisions closely to find out if there may be a way to get this covered.  I am not optimistic.  I hope the vehicle owner and your brother don't get sued by the person that the girlfriend hit.  This situation can be messy.  Once again, sorry my input doesn't give you a fix.  The bottom line is that the law hold the owner of a vehicle responsible for the use of the vehicle(as it should be), so if you let someone use it you should be willing to cover their liability in operating the vehicle.  You might benefit by googling "scope of permissive use" which might help you defend yourself from liability for the girlfriend's actions.  Anyway. . . JP

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

JP - I think you may have gotten your response to the follow up question mixed up with another.

My follow up question was regarding my nephew's truck being hit by the driver of a stolen vehicle: Should my nephew's "uninsured motorist" coverage pay for the damages to his vehicle, which were caused by the "uninsured driver"(the car thief) of the car that was stolen(the vehicle at fault)? Thanks for your thoughts.

TMH
Delany
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:25 pm

Liability For Damages When Car Stolen

Postby Foster » Fri Nov 18, 2016 12:11 am

Tina,   I think you're right about me having mixed up your question with another!  I hope the other questioner doesn't think I abandoned them, lol!   So for your followup. . . . YES!  Your nephew's uninsured motorist coverage should pay for the damages to his vehicle.  In most cases, the UM carrier will pursue the thief and owner as subrogees and under the proper negligence theory(if they have a good recovery manager / dept.).  Unfortunately, many recovery specialists simply do not know how to get money on a theft recovery, and I would be willing to bet your carrier does not pursue anybody on this one.  If they do, I would wager it will have to be done by an attorney or third party specialist(like us).     Anyway, yes, UM will pay normally cover this type of claim.  You may have to get a coverage denial letter from the owner of the vehicle in order to "trigger" your UM coverage, but it should be as simple as that.

I hope this helps, and sorry for the confusion!

JP  
Foster
 
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:38 pm


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