Who is liable when a car is stolen and the driver subsequently causes a collision and causes injuries or death? It is unlikely that the thief driving the car has any personal car insurance or assets. So, how would an injured individual or family be compensated after the accident for medical treatments and any other related expenses like pain and suffering, lost wages, or personal losses after such a collision? This is where uninsured motorist coverage comes in.
WV Insurance Issues Regarding Stolen Vehicles Involved in Collision
Case Study: Recently, an Ohio man was arrested in relation to an armed robbery near the CVS and Rite Aid in Weston, WV. This man allegedly pointed a gun at a woman and stole her vehicle, according to the Weston Police Department.
This man then was involved in a fatal vehicle accident in Marion County leading to his arrest. This driver was charged with armed robbery and may be charged for causing the deaths of two innocent people.
According to White Hall police, two elderly people are dead after the two-vehicle accident at the intersection of White Hall Boulevard and Middletown Road.
According to the preliminary investigation, the driver of the stolen vehicle ran a red light and T-boned a car coming into the intersection, killing an elderly couple from Farmington.
So, in addition to the criminal implications, what are the West Virginia insurance liability issues here?
West Virginia requires every vehicle to be insured for a minimum amount of liability coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 aggregate. However, the man who stole the vehicle did not have permission to operate the vehicle, and it is questionable whether he would qualify for such coverage on the vehicle he stole.
Hence, the estates of the deceased elderly couple would have to pursue their own uninsured motorist coverage.
Since the vehicle was clearly stolen, the permissive use doctrine which would assign liability to the car’s owner would not apply in this case, but certainly, underinsured motorist coverage and uninsured motorist coverage on the policies of the parties not at fault could apply.
The permissive use doctrine allows that when the owner of a motor vehicle permits another individual to drive his car either by permission or by leaving the keys in the car or in a common location, both the driver and the owner are liable for any damage caused by the negligence of the driver.
West Virginia Car Insurance Attorneys
The attorneys at the Robinette Legal Group PLLC are here to answer your questions and guide you as you pursue compensation for your injuries. We are happy to put our decades of experience handling accident cases to work for you.
Contact our experienced West Virginia Car Accident Attorneys today. We handle matters in Morgantown, Fairmont, Weston, and all of West Virginia and will work hard to obtain the compensation you or your loved one deserves.
Call us at 304.594.1800, start an instant chat, or send a contact email to schedule a free consultation.
Jeffery Robinette was admitted to practice law in 1991 and is licensed in all levels of state and federal trial courts in West Virginia. Mr. Robinette is also licensed in all state and federal appeals courts in West Virginia and the United States Supreme Court. As a National Board Certified Trial Attorney who has handled hundreds of motor vehicle, injury, and construction defect claims and a leading author on insurance claims settlement issues and difficulties in West Virginia, Jeff Robinette is uniquely qualified to represent your best interest.