When a Stolen Vehicle Causes an Injury Crash
In November, a teenage driver in a stolen SUV was speeding through a Houston neighborhood in a stolen SUV when he crashed into a car whose driver, a woman who was two blocks from her home, was killed when the SUV knocked her car off the street and into a yard. The teen driver and another suspect were trying to evade three police cars that were following them closely, reported ABC13.com. The 15-year-old driver faces a felony murder charge, and his passenger is charged with aggravated robbery.
Is the owner of the stolen vehicle responsible for the results of the crash? Among the 50 states, the majority common law rule is that the vehicle owner is not liable for damages when the stolen vehicle is involved in an accident. (Common law is a body of unwritten laws based on legal precedents established by the courts.) While the owner of a vehicle is liable for damages caused by another individual who has been driving the vehicle with the owner’s permission, the owner of a stolen car has obviously not agreed to let the thief drive it.
If your car was stolen and involved in a hit-and-run traffic accident, you obviously had nothing to do with the theft, and therefore you are not liable for anything done by the car thief. Moreover, since the car was stolen before it was crashed, your insurance company also is not obligated to cover any damages caused by the actions of the thief. It’s possible that the injured person or family of the deceased person may try to bring a lawsuit to force you to pay for the repair of the damaged vehicle hit by the thief driving your car. The “burden of proof” is on the plaintiff, who must prove that the vehicle owner was responsible for the crash. You cannot be held to be at fault simply because you own the car.
You therefore have a strong defense, but it is critical that you be able to prove that your car was stolen. Report the theft to the police, which will result in a police report that gives the
make, model, year, license plate number, and color of the car, along with its last location and the date of the theft. You will need to cover the repairs your car needs. Your insurance company will pay to repair or total your car, but if you don’t have collision or uninsured property damage coverage, you’re on your own. You will have to foot the bill out of pocket for repairing the damage to your car.
At Hudson Law Firm, we put PERSONAL back into Personal Injury Law. For an injury claim evaluation, call us at (972) 360-9898, or visit our website to chat with an associate. We understand and care about your injury, and look forward to helping you with your accident claim.