My uninsured car was stolen and in an accident am I liable?

Asked about 1 year ago - Tacoma, WA

I had an old uninsured car I was not driving parked in my driveway locked. It was stolen. I immediately called police because I heard it pull out early in the morning. The police got in a high speed pursuit with the car and he hit another vehicle. He was arrested and has since been convicted. I now almost a year later just received a letter in the mail saying I owe money to the driver of the car he hit due to an uninsured driver law in my state and that the dol is going to suspend my license unless I pay or can get this basically dropped by the insurance company. I never received notice of this before. Can I be held liable by this insurance company? I am going to contact the insurance company but wanted some advice first. Thank you.

Attorney answers (7)

  1. Richard Eugene Lewis

    Pro

    Contributor Level 10

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You are not liable, you may need a lawyer to clear this up for you.

  2. Michael David Myers

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Interestingly there are some cases where the owner is held liable where he has left the keys in the ignition. The answer depends on the facts.

  3. Albert Lee Crosner

    Contributor Level 19

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Contact a local area attorney to clarify this matter for you and to notify the insurance company that you are not liable.

    Mr. Crosner is licensed to practice law in California and has been practicing law in California since 1978. The... more
  4. Daniel Nelson Deasy

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Interesting question. Sorry to read of this situation.

    If stolen, I would think you have no liability.

    In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship.... more
  5. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Have a local lawyer clear it up

  6. Christopher B. Rounds

    Pro

    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . An insurance company cannot unilaterally find you to be liable. They can tell you they THINK you are liable, and they can threaten to sue you to get the court to find that you are liable. And, if they sue you and you don't defend, they will win, and that would result in all kinds of problems for you.

    If they were to sue you, the outcome would depend largely upon the facts. If you left the keys in the ignition, or if there had been a spate of recent thefts in your neighborhood, the insurer could argue that you did not exercise sufficient care. Whether a jury would agree is another question.

    I suggest that you hire an attorney on an hourly basis to write to the insurance company and tell them that you are not responsible, and to explain why. If the insurance company knows you have an advocate in your corner, I'll bet that they will decide to leave you alone. And, if the insurance company does not decide to leave you alone, you'll have an attorney ready to deal with them.

  7. Lars A. Lundeen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Assuming the facts are as you state, you should not have liability for the actions of a thief. You did not place this uninsured vehicle on the road, nor did you give him permission to do so. I suggest you obtain a copy of the police report and conviction record and provide that to the carrier in hopes they will leave you alone. If they continue to pursue you, you will probably need to hire a civil defense attorney to help get you out of this mess.

    Legal Disclaimer:

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

    Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

    This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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