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I was in a car accident, the other driver was at fault, but

Customer Question

i was in a car accident, the other driver was at fault, but she didn't own the vehicle that hit me, after i set the claim with the insurance, the owner of the other vehicle said that it was stolen two weeks before the accident to her policy adjuster, the adjuster keeps with the investigation, and ask the owner of the vehicle to provide proof (Police report), after three weeks of not answering the phone, she claimed that there is no police report previous to the accident, because the vehicle was in a shed in the back of her property, and not at sight, and that she didn't realized that it was stolen, until after the accident.
I have an email that the adjuster sent to me before, stating that the owner of the vehicle said it was stolen before the accident, now she claims she didn't know until after, my policy and her policy are with the same insurance company, that is why I think this is happening.
Since she doesn't have proof of this, is she responsible for the vehicle?, on that depends that the insurance pay me from her policy or not, and i a don't have enough to cover hospital and all, i was rushed to emergency the night of the accident and spent a couple of days in ICU
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 8 months ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.

I think you are getting insurance coverage confused with liability. Under no circumstance would the owner here typically be liable for the accident, as the accident did not occur because of their negligence. If the car was stolen, that's not their fault, and if they lent the car to a friend who crash it, that's not their fault either. You need negligence to establish liability and you don't have it against the driver.

Insurance coverage is what's at issue here. Specifically, whether the owner's insurance must cover the driver that hit you. The issue of insurance coverage is between the driver, owner and insurance company, though. You do not have any rights to enforce someone else's insurance contract or to "compel" coverage.

The owner would have very little reason to lie about their car being stolen, as regardless of whether it was stolen they are not typically going to be liable for your damages. If the driver is a friend of the owner, lying that the car was stolen only deprives their friend of the benefit of insurance coverage (why would you do that to a friend?) and exposes the friend to potential criminal charges (you can report the theft, if you are so inclined, though this will not benefit you personally). If the driver is not a friend of the owner, then what business would they have had driving the car? Theft would be consistent with this.

Your remedy here is to pursue a lawsuit against the driver who hit you. That person has a strong motivation to fight for insurance coverage, as otherwise their personal assets are at stake. All you can do is sue that person and hope that they will act in their own self interest to prove the car was not stolen. If coverage is still denied, you can get a judgment against the driver and then attempt to collect from their personal assets.

I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
According to texas law, you are responsible for your vehicle, and her policy liability is there for that reason, if I let somebody use my car and is in an accident, my liability would cover all the damages to the other person if the driver of my car is at fault, I already know that part of the law, then if I want i can sue the driver or whatever, the thing here is that there are different versions of the story of how they realized of the vehicle stolen, and the owner has properties and doesn't want to be liable, that is why she is saying this, I have reasons to believe it, there are other facts that would take too much time to explain, even the police agrees with me that she is lying.
My question is, if all that takes for a person to be out of the hook is to just say that the vehicle was stolen, or if they need to prove it, there is no previous police report of the vehicle being stolen, and at the time of the accident, when the police ran the license plate it didn't show as stolen.
The insurance says that if the vehicle was not stolen, they will pay from her policy
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
About the friendship part that you explain, I can not give reasons as to why somebody would compromise a friend, in any case, the lady that hit me was being followed by another car, the driver of that car claimed to be her husband, in the at fault vehicle we found paper work, tools, and other things belonging to the car owner's husband or son.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 8 months ago.

Thank you for your reply. However, as I was trying to explain, your question is premised on some fundamental misunderstandings about liability and insurance coverage. You cannot sue someone for an accident simply because they own the car. You need to prove that they were negligent in some way. Some times, it is possible to prove negligent entrustment. That is, the owner lent their car to someone whom they should have known was irresponsible an was likely to get into an accident (i.e. someone with 3 previous DUIs.) But negligent entrustment is the exception to the rule. It is never assumed.

The issue here is one of insurance coverage. That is completely independent of liability. Insurance coverage typically extends to "permissive users" of the owner's vehicle, but if the car was stolen, coverage would not typically extend. That is the issue we are faced with here. The coverage issue can only be resolved by the insurance company, owner and driver. You have no rights to enforce someone else's insurance coverage, as insurance coverage is just a contractual agreement to indemnify for damages and you are not a party to the contract.

All you can do is sue the driver of the car and hope that they will advocate for insurance coverage, as it would be in their own financial interest to do so. You can even name the owner of the car if you think you can argue negligence, but you cannot name them simply because they own the car. In any case, this has nothing to do with the issue of insurance coverage, which is a completely independent issue.

I hope this clarifies things.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Patrick, this is a copy paste from an example given by the dmv, this is for Texas law, no doubt, let me know what you think, it sounds clear that in my case, the other vehicle's owner policy should cover if the car was not stolen, again my question about the nonexistent police report for the stolen vehicle.here is the copy/pasteCar Insurance Follows the Vehicle
It’s a common misconception that car insurance follows the driver. In reality, car insurance follows the vehicle.
This means that if you loan out your car to driver who is not excluded on your policy (see “When Could You Be Held Liable?” below), your car insurance is the primary coverage that would apply if a crash occurred. The driver’s insurance would act as secondary (or excess) insurance.
Let’s take a look at an example:
Let’s say you lend your car to your roommate, Annie, for the day. Annie hits another driver in the parking lot at her office. The primary coverage that would pay for damages to the other driver is your liability coverage. This means you’d have to:
File the claim with your company.
Pay the deductible.
Accept any resulting rate hikes.
If the damages exceed your limits, Annie’s coverage will step in as secondary coverage.
If, however, the accident was not Annie’s fault, the claim would be paid by the other driver’s coverage and your insurance would be unaffected.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
will be waiting for your answer, thank you
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 8 months ago.

I completely agree with what you posted. But again, as I am trying to explain, you are confusing insurance coverage with liability. Just because there is liability doesn't mean there is insurance coverage and just because there is insurance coverage doesn't mean there is liability.

YES, if the driver that hit you was driving with the permission of the owner, insurance coverage would be extended. But this has nothing to do with liability. I don't know how to explain it any other way.

All you can do is sue the at fault driver and hope they will have the good sense to advocate that they should be covered. Since you are not a party to the insurance contract you cannot enforce the contract yourself.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 8 months ago.

And you can't sue the owner unless you have a basis for liability. The fact that they are "covered" by their insurance has no bearing on this. I think that is what's tripping you up.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
you mean that her policy will not cover my damages if she authorized the other driver to use the vehicle?
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 8 months ago.

Correct, unless you can prove "negligent entrustment." To do this, you must establish that it was reasonably foreseeable to the owner that the driver would have caused an accident. For instance, they have a history of DUIs or the driver didn't have a license. Negligent entrustment is very hard to prove. As noted above, it is the exception not the rule. Without a basis for liability against the owner, it wouldn't matter if their insurance coverage applies.

I hope this clarifies things.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Do you practice law in Texas?, actually what I have showed you even has an example where it shows that the primary policy is the vehicle owners, and that it would pay for the damages to others, the police department here agrees that the vehicle owner's policy should pay, even they know she was not driving, even the insurance company is saying that they would pay me from her policy, if the investigations shows that the vehicle was not stolen, that's it, no need for "negligent entrustment".
Actually my question was not if her policy has to pay, it was more about what proves that she is lying or not, I don't think I need to be told about insurance coverage versus liability again, I have a clear picture of how that works in Texas.
Please let me know what I need to do to be reimbursed for the service, and to cancel the subscription.
Thank you
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 8 months ago.

Whether she is lying has no bearing on anything--it doesn't matter because regardless she is not liable for the accident unless you can establish negligent entrustment. That's why I said your question is premised on a misunderstanding of the law.

I will opt out of this question as I don't think there is anything else I can do to help you here. Another attorney will jump in if they feel they have anything to add.

I wish you the best with this matter and a speedy recovery from your injuries.

Expert:  Attorney 1 replied 8 months ago.

Thank you for the additional information. New expert here. I'm a licensed attorney and happy to provide some additional information since the prior attorney opted out of the question. I hope you find it useful.

First, I do agree with what the prior experts said, but there is more. The insurance company has a vested interest in not paying the claim, so if the adjuster can find any reason not to turn over money, it will deny you payment. That said, you do have recourse, both against the owner and the driver, and if you decide to pursue a lawsuit, everyone involved should be named. The court will sort out the liability issue.

As far as proving the owner was lying, there are numerous ways to do that. You could take a look at the traffic report for your accident and see if there are any notations that would indicate a stolen vehicle, such as a hotwired car or anything to that effect. Chances are there are not. It sounds like the driver had a regular key, especially since you said the driver was being followed by the husband and the car contain work tools, etc. A regular key and no evidence of tampering of the vehicle is evidence that there was no theft. You could have the car examine by an expert for signs of tampering consistent with theft. Another thing to do is question (perhaps through that process of litigation discovery) what the circumstances were that led to the alleged theft, and whether they were such that the owner of the vehicle was negligent in supposedly allowing that to happen. For instance, did the owner and leave the shed open and unlocked? What kind of lock was on the shed and could it be visibly seen that it had been tampered with or broken, such that if the car was stolen a report could have been made earlier? Is there a history of auto theft in the area such that the owner should have taken better care with the type of lock on the shed or should have left that shed closed? Did the neighbors notice anything strange that could indicate the possibility of theft, or did they see the owner in or around the shed more recently than the car was allegedly stolen, or perhaps saw the owner even driving the car? Do the neighbors know or have seen the alleged thief, such that as to indicate that the "thief" was a friend or relative of the owner and thus the vehicle was not really stolen? How about an online search that may help uncover the relationship between the parties?

These would indicate owner negligence and/or fraud that would hold the owner responsible or show that the owner is lying. Providing the insurance adjuster with this information may or may not be possible and may or may not help, since were talking about an insurance company here. The information may be obtainable through, as I mentioned, the process of written discovery after a lawsuit is filed, though. Either way, it sounds like you were seriously injured and a lawsuit, as mentioned, should name all parties to protect your interests There is responsibility here, and you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, etc.

You could do on this yourself, or hire an attorney in your area to handle this for you so you can focus on getting well. If you choose to hire an attorney, a good referral source will be your county bar association. There will be no charge for the referral and no charge for the initial consultation with the attorney to whom you are referred. If that attorney takes your case, there should be no out-of-pocket fees or expenses to pay, either.

I hope this helps. If you need additional information or clarification, just let me know and I'll be happy to continue providing assistance. If I have addressed your issue and/or pointed you in a positive direction, please let me know that as well, and please remember to leave a positive rating when prompted, as that is the only way attorneys on this site are credited for the information we provide.

Good luck!

Best,

Attorney 1

Expert:  Attorney 1 replied 8 months ago.

Please let me know if there's anything else I can do for you. I'm here to help.

Best,

Attorney 1

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