Attorney David J. King


Who do you sue when you’re in a wreck with a borrowed car?

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2022 | Car Accidents

You never dreamed you’d be in a bad car accident just a mile or two from your home – but it happened. Since the other driver was clearly at-fault, you expected their insurance to cover your damages.

But, there’s a hitch: The driver who caused your wreck was in a borrowed car. (In fact, their unfamiliarity with the vehicle may have contributed to the wreck.) You obtained their insurance information from the authorities who came to the scene, but their insurance says they aren’t responsible. What’s going on?

Car insurance generally follows the vehicle

It may surprise you, but the operating rule in South Dakota (and most other states) is that “the insurance follows the car,” and not the individual driver.

In other words, if the driver who hit you was using a car they borrowed from their brother, mother or best friend, it’s the car’s owner that’s responsible for your injuries and losses, not the actual driver.

There are some exceptions to this rule, however, that can complicate your claim quite a bit. The company that insured the vehicle that hit you may not be responsible for your losses when:

  • The driver was purposefully excluded by the insurer from the policy. This is often because they are underage, have a history of accidents or don’t have a license.
  • The driver was operating the vehicle without the owner’s permission. For example, a teenager “borrows” the spare car’s keys when their parent is not at home for a joyride or the car was stolen.

What if the owner of the vehicle has subpar insurance or your injuries are so severe that the only fair compensation would exceed the limits of the insurance policy on the vehicle? In general, you would then be able to pursue additional damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance, assuming they have coverage.

Car accident claims can be more complicated than you’d ever imagine. Legal assistance can help you untangle the insurance red tape and get what you need for your recovery.