My friend borrowed my car and totaled it, and was found at fault. Can I sue him for damages?

Asked almost 5 years ago - Pompano Beach, FL

My friend/neighbor borrowed my car and totaled it, causing a 3-car accident. He has no vehicle or insurance of his own. I have full coverage and took a settlement on my car.

I have liability coverage, but if my liability limits do not cover the claimants, can they sue me? Can I sue my friend for damages, and can the claimants also sue him for damages?

There was also a blood draw ordered by the investigating officer, results are not available yet. If the blood draw is found to be positive for drugs/alcohol, what are my options?

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Tonald Edmund Spinks

    Contributor Level 9

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I agree with the above advice, but wanted to caution you, these matters become very complicated. Your insurance company will provide you with a lawyer to protect your interest if you are sued by the injured party. This lawyer can advise you regarding your rights and obligations.

    You may also seek consultation from a private attorney (not hired and assigned by the insurance company) regarding your options to pursue a claim for damages either against the at-fault driver, or perhaps your own insurance company, depending on how they decide to handle the claim.

    Best wishes for the New Year,
    Ed Spinks

  2. Dennis Michael Phillips

    Contributor Level 17

    Answered . As the owner of a dangerous instrumentality, YOU are liable for damages caused to others by its negligent operation by a permissive driver. The fact that your friend may be found to have been intoxicated also brings the potential for punitive damages.

    Get with your insurer and implore them to settle all claims against you ASAP.

  3. Royce Brent Bishop

    Contributor Level 16

    Answered . Your insurance's company's attorney will help you. Because there are so many accidents in Florida, Florida law requires that $10,000 or less in damages basically will be settled out of court. Only if they have more than $10,000 in damages do you have to worry that you could be pulled into the lawsuit, but at that point your insurance company will defend you.

    I would only worry if you knew he has had 3 DUI's, he is a horrible driver, he has no driver's license, you bought him liquor, and then you let him drive in a drunken state. It is a misdemeanor to let someone drive your car if you know they do not have a driver's license. If his driving record is horrible and you knew about it, you could be brought into the lawsuit if there is more than $10,000 in damages. It really is a negligence determination on his driving versus your (possible negligent) entrustment. The more ridiculous he was driving, the less attention will be on you.

    So be careful whom you talk to (only talk to your insurance company or their attorney), but you are probably OK as far as them suing you. They would have to prove you were negligent giving him the car, which is not so easy to do.

  4. Lars A. Lundeen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . As a permissive driver, your friend is insured under your automobile liability policy which you had on the destroyed vehicle. If this accident occurred in the state of Florida, you, as owner, can be found equally liable with your friend for any damages that he may have caused.

    You should cooperate with your automobile liability insurance company's investigation and settlement efforts and urge your carrier to resolve this claim (or claims) within your policy limit. If it becomes apparent that your limits are insufficient to cover the damages, you may find it necessary to retain your own personal counsel to represent your interests in this matter.

    You may also wish to review your coverage limits with an independent insurance agent to determine if you are carrying adequate insurance for this day and age. Increasing your limits will not help you for this accident; however, you could protect your assets in the future.

  5. Alan James Brinkmeier

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Can you sue your friend for damages after you let him borrow your car and he totaled it? Yes, you may sue him.

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