No one wants to have their car stolen. Even worse, however, is having someone steal your car—and then wreck it. This situation raises all types of legal questions, one of which is whether you can face any liability for the accident. In this article, we discuss whether you are liable after someone steals and wrecks your car in New York.
New York’s No-Fault System
In most cases, if you allow another person to drive your vehicle, and he or she gets into a wreck, your insurance policy will cover any resulting damages, such as lost wages and medical expenses. And since New York is a no-fault state, this applies regardless of who is at fault for the accident. However, depending on the circumstances, your insurance may not cover everything, and you may have to cover some of the damages yourself.
The Thief is Typically Responsible for Damages
If someone uses your vehicle without permission and gets into an accident, it’s possible that your insurance won’t cover the resulting damages. However, if you are able to prove that your vehicle was stolen, you generally won’t be liable for any damages or injuries. In such cases, the theft of your vehicle implies that you didn’t give the driver permission to use your vehicle. However, it’s important to review your insurance policy to determine the conditions that apply when others drive your vehicle.
Filing a Report
If your vehicle is stolen, you should report the theft immediately to law enforcement.
Not only will this help you locate your car, but many insurance companies won’t honor a theft claim unless you’ve filed a police report. In addition, after reporting the theft to the police, you should report the incident to your insurance company to ensure that your insurer is aware of the situation.
When You Could Be Liable for an Accident
Although you generally won’t be liable for an accident caused by a thief, you may face liability if you leave your car unattended and vulnerable to theft, as this constitutes negligence on your part. For example, if you leave your keys in the ignition and your vehicle unlocked, you may be liable for any resulting damages if a thief steals and crashes your car. Therefore, as a precaution, you should never leave your vehicle in a position that leaves it vulnerable to theft.
Contact a New York Personal Injury Attorney
If you require legal assistance in New York, you need an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner. At the Law Offices of Frank J. Dito, Jr., we represent traffic accident victims in Brooklyn and Staten Island. When you come to us for help, we’ll do everything we can to ensure that your case is a success. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.