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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 117375
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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My daughter's friend was driving my daughter's car as they

Customer Question

My daughter's friend was driving my daughter's car as they were on a road trip together. This friend ran a red light and caused significant monetary damages to both vehicles involved. There is an accident report and her friend was ticketed. Thankfully there are no injuries or claims for medical care at this time. We have premium insurance through Safeco in Washington State and they are taking full responsibility for the accident. Additionally, we have never had accidents or ticket claims on our policy. My daughter (18-years-old) just bought her first car and it now has frame damage among other needed repairs and the insurance company is choosing to repair her 2013 Honda Civic rather than total it. Due to her friend's negligence, are we able to recoup additional expenses to include our deductible, car rental insurance (we purchased for fear of having another claim on our policy), diminished value of our daughter's car (primarily due to frame damage)? We have also been informed that our insurance rates will most definitely increase for 3 years and we would like to recover this increase as well once we know the amount in April 2017. Unfortunately, this accident happened in Montana and my husband had to drive there, rent a tow dolly for the car and pick up the girls.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
If your daughter was not driving at the time, you have basis to argue against any increase in policy rates. Her friend can be liable to you for damages not covered by insurance, including diminished value and actually if the friend was covered under their own insurance policy, you should have made a claim against the friend's insurance policy as most will provide coverage when driving someone else's vehicle. Otherwise, if the friend has no assets for you to collect from suing them would be useless, but if they have money then you can sue her friend for the losses not covered by insurance.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I have been informed that in Washington State, the insurance follow's the car, not the driver. Therefore our insurance is responsible for the damages and our coverage is adequate for all monetary claims. Due to this, the friend's insurance will not be engaged. Are we able to contact the friend's insurance ourselves and file a claim?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
The DRIVER is still liable to you and most insurance policies do provide protection if a person is borrowing a car or using someone's car, even in WA. So you need to file suit against the friend and they have to notify their insurer that they are being sued for their insurance to step in and if their insurer refuses then the friend is personally liable.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
With all due respect, I'm confused. Do we personally (not via our insurance company as Safeco is saying the insurance follows the vehicle) file a claim as you stated in your first answer? Or do we file a suit against my daughter's friend and she will engage her insurance company should she choose? Would we file a small claims case and if so, can we include the monetary damages we incurred that I listed in my initial question to include: deductible, diminution of value, car insurance purchased for rental car, towing and mileage cost, as well as future insurance rate increase? Our daughter learned a really difficult lesson in giving another person permission to drive her car. In not yet certain terms, we have been adivsed that our rates will increase because the claim is against our policy. We can argue the fact that no one on our policy caused the accident but our daughter did give permission to her friend to drive her car. In May when our policy renews we may have to search for a new company to carry our auto, home, boat and umbrella policies. Unfortunately, a major vehicle accident will still be on our insurance record.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your reply and I apologize for your confusion.
You personally file with your insurer, step one. Step two if your insurer is not paying all damages, you file suit against the driver for anything your insurer does not cover and it is up to her to engage her insurer or pay for the damages she caused you to incur that were not covered by the insurance. It all depends on the amount not covered by your insurer as to whether or not you can sue the driver in small claims, the limit in small claims is $5000.
Insurance increases, I am afraid, are up to the individual insurers and some insurers will raise rates for this and others will not raise rates if the insured party was not at fault as in this case. So, you would need to find an insurer who will not consider the accident since none of the insureds were at fault in the accident.