Who’s at fault in crashes with stolen vehicles? In a crash that results in injuries and other losses due to the negligence of another driver, you typically have the option for compensation. In most cases, you can file a claim for damages with the insurance company of the at-fault driver. The insurer then reviews the claim, checks out the evidence, and pays you a settlement if you have a valid claim. This is the legal process, although the actual procedure may be different if the insurer balks, raises unfair objections, or altogether refuses the claim.
If the crash that resulted in your losses involved a stolen vehicle, things become a lot more complicated. When this happens, you must pursue a different route in order to recover a fair amount of damages. Your actual options will depend on the precise circumstances of the crash. It is also probable that when your vehicle is hit by a stolen vehicle, the other driver flees the scene which makes it a hit-and-run incident.
Who is Liable?
In accidents involving stolen vehicles, the following parties are typically liable:
- The driver: This is the person who was driving the stolen vehicle at the time of the crash. The driver in a typical scenario like this already has criminal charges against him for having stolen the vehicle. As it is the driver that caused the crash, he or she will be held liable for any damages.
- The owner: In some crashes involving stolen vehicles, the owner may be legally liable. This is the case in the unlikely scenario when the owner didn’t take proper precautions to avoid the theft of the vehicle. This applies in particular to situations where the thief turns out to be someone the owner knew or the vehicle was stolen in a neighborhood with a history of vehicle thefts.
As noted above, the driver of the stolen vehicle or its owner can be held liable in a crash caused by that vehicle. You can seek compensatory damages from the driver only if the driver stays on the scene of the crash. If the driver flees, you can’t hold the driver accountable until the authorities apprehend him.
In the meantime, you can seek compensation from your own insurance company if your auto insurance policy includes uninsured motorist coverage. Such coverage helps you in getting compensation without losing any time in hit-and-run incidents.
Even when the driver is apprehended but you find out that he doesn’t carry insurance, your UIM coverage will help you cover your losses. If the driver has insurance, you can file the claim with the driver’s insurer.
If the owner is found responsible for negligence that led to the theft of stolen vehicles, you can file the claim against the owner. It is likely that the owner of the vehicle has insurance, so your claim will be sent to the owner’s insurer. If the owner’s negligence is clear, you should be able to get a fair settlement from the insurance company. However, the owner’s insurer is likely to dispute your claim and try to low-ball you. This is where a good car accident attorney on your side will be of immense help.
When Can I File a Lawsuit?
If the driver who stole the vehicle and caused the crash has no insurance, you have the legal option of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. If negligence is proven, the authorities will liquidate any assets that the driver has to pay your compensatory damages. In most crashes involving uninsured or hit-and-run drivers, the driver does not have enough assets to make the hassle of a lawsuit worth it. It is best to consult a lawyer to see if a lawsuit is a viable option in your accident.
A lawsuit may also be your only option when the driver or the owner has insurance but their insurance company refuses to pay the claim for stolen vehicles. When such refusal is in bad faith, a lawsuit is a viable option. If you can prove negligence and win the lawsuit, you will be able to recover a fair amount of compensation.
Finding a Good Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer
If you were hit by a stolen vehicle in Atlanta, GA, it is important to consult a good lawyer at the earliest. A lawyer will help you understand your legal options. Here at the Green Legal Group, we have been helping accident victims in Atlanta get fair settlements for a long time. In every case we undertake, our aim is to help our clients get the maximum compensation they deserve. Let us help you with your case. Call now to schedule a free session and discuss your case.