Would I Be Liable if my Roommate Caused Injuries with my Car?

Question: I have basic $25/50/25 liabilities coverage and my roommate is listed as driver on my policy. He hit a cyclist. After a few swearing and name calling the guy cycled off, according to my friend. But I got a letter that he is claiming for injuries including cracked ribs. It is from a lawyer and addressed to me. He must have gotten my details from DMV. I passed the letter to my insurer but claims may come to more than my limits. I don’t know if the injury lawyers’ costs will be included in it or not. Maybe they will share the payouts (No win no fee?).

Would I or my roommate be liable for the damages over and above my insurance coverage? I don’t own much and currently a student, if they sue me. But what could really happen? I don’t think the cyclist will have permanent damages. Still, it is worrying.

Answer: Interesting case. The injured third parties can sue the owner of the vehicle regardless of who was driving, should their damages are not fully paid by the insurance company. In this case running out of coverage would make them think what to do next. In fact, the injured cyclist can sue your friend as well for negligence. When you are involved in an accident with a pedestrian or cyclist you are more likely to be assumed at fault. You are the one behind the wheel and you should be the one watching out where you are going. Even a pedestrian was drunk you can use it against him/her because they don’t need to be sober to be walking on the street.

In a way, involvement of a lawyer in your case (no win no fee?) could be a good sign. They would quickly find out what is your coverage limit and play to get it. They would also find out what you have to go after. If they are unlikely to get anything out of someone there may not be much of a point to push hard and dedicate hours for the case. They like to be paid after all.

Hopefully, the cyclist will be made good by your insurance policy and be satisfied with the outcome. Whatever the outcome a claim has been entered onto your policy records. And it is almost definitely an at fault one unless you have a witness saying the cyclist had a death wish. You should brace yourself for a jump on your premium.

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