Who Is Liable for Property Damage Caused by a Stolen Vehicle?

Who Is Liable for Property Damage Caused by a Stolen Vehicle?A bizarre scene greeted police officers responding to a report of shots fired in Nashville; a black SUV butted up against a telephone pole in a front yard at the end of a trail of damage. As officers approached the vehicle, three teenage girls jumped out and fled the scene on foot. The girls were quickly apprehended, and it was quickly determined that the vehicle had recently been reported stolen near 2nd Avenue and Lafayette.

According to News Channel 5, the juvenile offenders have been charged with auto theft, fleeing the scene of a crash and running from police. Unfortunately, however, the damages they caused have become the responsibility of the homeowner and the vehicle owner. Both parties are victims of property damage, and while insurance should cover the cost of repairs, the responsibility for payment isn’t clear.

When your stolen property is involved in an accident

After any theft, emotional shock is common; disbelief and a violation of trust are just the beginning. Unfortunately, it’s important to act quickly to make sure that you and your property are protected. Call the police and file a report; give as much information as you can, including a detailed description, vehicle identification number, license plate number. An official police report is an invaluable tool that can both protect you and help you recover damages.

Allstate recommends, “After you’ve filed a police report, call your insurance company to let them know that your car has been stolen. This is a particularly important step, since informing your insurance provider can help protect you in case your car is used to cause harm or damage after the theft. Try to provide as much information as possible. It helps if you can give a good description of your vehicle, the location of all your keys and a list of any personal property inside the car. If your car is leased or financed, you should also call the lender that you used to purchase the vehicle.”

When stolen property is involved in an accident, insurance coverage can become extremely complicated. You wouldn’t expect to pay for an accident that you didn’t cause, but that might just be the case if someone driving a stolen vehicle strikes you. Neither would you expect to pay for damages caused by your stolen vehicle. Though these situations are fairly uncommon, they do happen; when they do, there is no substitute for experienced legal counsel.

The Nashville personal injury attorneys at the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm are experienced in complex litigation; we fight for your rights when you need us the most. For a free consultation, call 615-425-2500, visit our offices in Nashville, Hendersonville or Knoxville or contact us today.