“Leaving the keys out is like leaving out a loaded gun,” Benny Agosto, Jr. was quoted as saying in an article on Fox Business. The article discussed the hidden dangers of the already unfortunate situation where an unauthorized person drives your car and gets into an accident.
Liability for damages and injuries may vary, depending on the type of insurance coverage you have and who is driving your car. If it is stolen, comprehensive insurance would cover your car. However, if you have only liability insurance, the coverage does not extend to your car or to injuries of others. Even if the thief has liability insurance, it does not cover his criminal actions. But, the thief would be likely be the one sued for those damages or injuries.
What if someone you know took it without your permission? Would it be a theft or a mere “unauthorized use”? The difference between the two is not quite clear; however, either way, your insurance would generally not provide coverage. Additionally, someone could potentially sue you “for leaving the keys out,” Mr. Agosto said. Typically, owners say that they let the person drive the car because that claim requires the insurance company to defend you in court, even though it reserves the right to not pay the damages if it finds you negligent. Insurance companies often agree to pay a claims settlement in order to avoid getting sued by policyholders for bad faith.
Because you cannot legally give an unlicensed child permission to drive, an accident involving one in your car becomes a nightmare. You are still responsible as a parent for any accidents the child causes. This is one of the reasons Mr. Agosto locks his car keys in a safe in a locked closet in his locked bedroom, “not because I have bad kids, but because kids get together with other kids.” He recommends you do the same.
Benny Agosto, Jr. is a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner in Houston, Texas. For over 65 years, Abraham Watkins has successfully represented injured people and families who fall victim to catastrophes. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to obtain just compensation their clients. For more information, please contact the office of Benny Agosto, Jr. at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at (713) 222-7211.