Who Is Liable if My Car Is Stolen?
From 2016 to 2018 there were 209 stolen vehicles every day in the United States. This comes with little surprise due to current economic hardships, however not finding your car parked where you left it will always be surprising. The initial panic once you realize your car has been stolen is difficult to overcome. The only thing worse is learning that your stolen car has been in an accident. The best thing you can do in this situation is to remain calm. The bottom line is you are not liable, but this does not mean the process will be easy.
By law, if your car was stolen, you are not liable for any damages the criminal acquired, including the other person’s car or personal injuries. You can rest assured that you will not be responsible for paying anyone’s medical bills and your insurance will not be charged for paying the damages either. There is no denying that since you never gave permission to the individual who stole your car, you are not responsible for what he/she did.
This does not mean that the other party won’t try to sue you, but if your car is stolen, you can rely on a solid defense. One thing that will never stand in a court of law is that the other party will not be able to show “burden of proof”. This means that there is no way to show that you caused or were responsible for the accident.
If your car is stolen, hopefully an accident does not incur. However, before taking that risk it is best to do the following once your car has been stolen. These tips will help you avoid as much legal action as possible in the event of a crash with your stolen car.
- Confirm that your car really is stolen – We’ve all had that brief moment of panic when our car is not in the ‘right spot,’ which is actually a completely different parking spot. Another thing to consider is that your car could have gotten towed. If this is a possibility, call the police impound and save yourself the stress.
- Call the police – If your car has really been stolen, quickly call the police. 85% of stolen vehicles are recovered, so the sooner you notify the police, the better your chances. You will need to file a police report with the make, model, and VIN of your car. Now might be an excellent time to write down that information and store it anywhere else but your car.
- Call your insurance – After the police, your insurance company is the next most important call to make. Although having comprehensive auto insurance may provide you with some sort of monetary advance, most state minimums will not reimburse the entire vehicle. Don’t call with the hope of gaining money, but at the very least your insurance company should know that you are no longer in possession of the car.
- Call the DMV – The DMV and police often work together to discover your stolen vehicle. The DMV keeps a database of stolen cars, so be sure to contact them ASAP.
- Do it yourself – You might want to search some local ads for your stolen vehicle. Craigslist and other online car selling forums are great places to start. Although it may be a long shot to find your stolen vehicle among several other models, it has happened before.
One last thing you can do is to checkout the most commonly stolen vehicles in your state. Some vehicles, like older models of Chevy pickups, are just a target, but even in the event of these cars being stolen it is still important to know what to do.
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