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If Someone Steals My Car and is in an Accident, Am I Liable?

If your car is stolen and the person who stole it is in an accident, then you are not liable for the accident.

The state of Missouri is an “at-fault” state in auto law. That means when an accident occurs, only one party is found at fault and liable for an accident. The at-fault driver is then responsible for paying for the damages and injuries to the other driver. But if someone is driving your car and gets into an accident, who is responsible and liable? Even worse, what if someone either borrows your car without permission or steals it and causes an accident – are you on the hook for that?

Auto Accident Lawyer St Louis

Understanding the Rule of Vicarious Liability

Missouri abides by the law of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability says that if someone is driving your car and they are at fault for an accident, then the owner of the car is responsible for paying for any damages or injuries that result. But there are stipulations to the rule of vicarious liability. The only way that it applies is if you explicitly gave someone permission to drive your car or you let them use your car as a term of their employment with you.

There are even times when vicarious liability would not apply in employer/employee cases. For employees to be covered, they must be working under the scope and authority of their employment duties. If they were engaged in anything besides work-related activities, then that might negate vicarious liability rules.

If you lend your car to your teenager, then through vicarious liability you would be responsible if they were in an accident and at fault. Even if your teen took your car without permission, since they are a minor, then you would likely still be responsible for the accident if they are liable.

If Your Car is Taken or Stolen

But if someone else takes your car without asking and gets into an accident, then you are probably not going to be held liable. The only issue is that if you knew the person, you would have to prove that you didn’t permit them. This might be a case of your word against theirs, which could lead to you needing to involve a St. Louis car accident lawyer.

However, if someone steals your car, then that is an entirely different issue. If your car is stolen and you report it as missing or stolen and the person who stole it is in an accident, then you are not liable for the accident, even if they are at fault.

Speak With a St. Louis Injury Attorney

Don’t talk to an insurance claims adjuster before you speak with a lawyer. We can help you avoid making statements that may be taken out of context and later used against you by the insurance company. If your car was stolen and then involved in an accident, call our 24-hour attorney call center at (314) 361-4242 or fill out our online case evaluation form for a Free Consultation.

Updated: March 31, 2018