The Los Angeles Police Department estimates that almost 30,000 cars are stolen in LA every year. Perhaps the only bright spot for the victims is that they will generally not be liable for damages if the perpetrator crashes the stolen car and harms other people.
The car accident attorneys at Salamati Law represent victims in Southern California. We have seen many accidents involving stolen vehicles. Generally, the car owner and the owner’s insurance carriers are not liable. This does not mean, however, that the accident victim has no recourse to recover damages from other potentially negligent parties.
Why is a car owner not liable for injuries caused by a car thief?
A car owner is only liable for injuries caused by permitted uses of their car. Moreover, car theft is a criminal act, and the owner cannot be held responsible for another person’s crimes unless the owner aided or abetted those crimes. An attorney might sue the car owner if there is any suggestion that the owner facilitated or negligently allowed the theft.
To avoid liability for injuries that occur when a stolen car is in a wreck, the car owner can present evidence of the theft, such as a police report and a theft claim file with the owner’s insurance company. Unless the owner has fraudulently reported that their car was stolen, that evidence is generally sufficient to excuse the owner and the owner’s insurer from liability.
How can an injured party collect damages for injuries in an accident with a stolen car?
An experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney will always analyze a crash to determine if other parties have some California car accident liability for a victim’s losses and injuries. Those other parties can include:
- The car thief and the their auto insurance company
- Municipal authorities who engaged the stolen car in a high-speed pursuit, where that pursuit is itself negligent
- Property owners who negligently erected barriers that contributed to the crash
In addition, if the injured party carried uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on their own auto insurance, it will be another resource for damages compensation.
Call Salamati Law for a Free Consultation
Car theft victims and individuals injured in crashes with stolen cars should consult with an attorney about their rights and opportunities to recoup their losses and make themselves whole again. Our team of lawyers in the Los Angeles offices of Salamati Law has the knowledge and expertise to provide the guidance you need after you experience such a loss. Do not hesitate to call us for a no-fee consultation. We work on a contingency basis, so there are no upfront legal fees.