What Should You Do After an Accident While Driving Someone Else’s Car in Florida?

You might become concerned about liability if you are involved in a car accident while driving someone else’s car. The situation can get challenging if you caused the accident. It can get more challenging if you didn’t even have permission to drive the car. 

The Basics: Florida’s “No-Fault” Auto Insurance System

Florida is one of a dozen states that administer a “no-fault” auto insurance system. Every driver must purchase $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) insurance. If you suffer an injury in an accident caused by someone else, you cannot sue unless your injuries are “serious” or if your losses exceed your policy limits. Instead, you must use your PIP insurance

The situation is different when it comes to property damage. Here, Florida is no longer a “no-fault” system. You can immediately sue the at-fault driver or file a third-party claim against their PDL insurance policy. 

Insurance Usually Follows the Vehicle, Not the Driver

Can you drive someone else’s car without exposing yourself to liability? The short answer is that it depends on more than one factor. If you are a member of the car owner’s household, you can almost certainly rely on the owner’s PIP insurance.

If your injuries are “serious” (as Florida law defines that term) you can sue the other driver or file a third-party claim against their liability insurance policy (if they have one). To pay for the damage to the owner’s car, you can rely on the at-fault driver’s PDL insurance. 

Permissive Users

If you are not a member of the car owner’s household, you might be a “permissive” user. You would then be treated the same way that you would be as a member of the car owner’s household. 

A small insurance company might not even allow permissive users. A larger insurer generally allows permissive users if they drive the car fewer than a dozen times per year. Many insurance policies don’t allow permissive use for business purposes (unless you allow it) or for inexperienced or unlicensed drivers.

Non-Permissive Users

You are a non-permissive user if:

  • You stole the car or were taking it for a “joy ride” without the owner’s permission.
  • You are a member of the owner’s household, but the owner has listed you as an “excluded driver” on their insurance policy.
  • You don’t live in the owner’s household and do not qualify as a permissive user.

The law presumes that your use was permissive. Anyone who claims otherwise must prove that your use of the car was non-permissive. 

Fault and Non-Permissive Use

If you are a non-permissive user and you get into an accident that is not your fault, you might have to rely on your own PIP insurance to cover your medical bills.    

What Should I Do if I Caused the Accident?

If you cause an accident while driving someone else’s car, get a lawyer right away – you could bear significant liability. 

Since Florida is a no–fault state for bodily injury, fault doesn’t matter with respect to injury as long as you had permission to drive the car. You can rely on the owner’s PIP insurance. For property damage, the other driver might file a claim against the car owner’s PDL policy. The owner might then file a claim against your PDL coverage for damage to the owner’s car.  

If your use was non-permissive and the accident was your fault, the insurance companies will probably refuse to pay any claims. In that case, you would bear personal liability for all damages to you, the car owner, and the other driver. 

Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer if You Are Uncertain About Your Best Course of Action

If you’re not sure what you should do following a car accident while driving another person’s car, it won’t hurt to schedule a free initial consultation with a Florida personal injury lawyer. In fact, contacting a lawyer could save the day in a worst-case scenario where the car is totaled and you suffer serious injuries

You don’t need to worry about paying legal fees, either. If the lawyer takes your case, they will charge you on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay if you get compensation.

Contact a St. Petersburg car accident lawyer at Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys and schedule a free case review today.

Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys

700 7th Ave N Suite B
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 933-0015