Busy parents often rely on carpooling to make their schedules easier while sharing the responsibility of shuffling children to and from school or other extracurricular activities. Coworkers or friends, in turn, often make arrangements to carpool because it’s simply easier and often more cost-effective than driving on your own. However, carpooling does carry risks for those who assume the responsibility of driving around with someone else’s kids or family members in the car. Therefore, before agreeing to a carpooling arrangement with another family or a friend, it’s important to be aware of what your insurance policy will and won’t cover and make sure you’re taking the appropriate steps to shield yourself from liability should an accident occur.
What Are Your Legal Rights After a Carpooling Accident?
Personal injury cases often arise out of car accidents when the driver was found to be acting negligently. After a car accident, it’s possible to sue someone if you believe that the accident was a direct cause of the driver’s bad behavior. Both the driver of the other vehicle that was involved in the accident and the passengers in either car can sue a driver if they think that person’s negligence caused the accident. Let’s say, for example, that you agreed to drive your friends to work one day. While on the road, you received a text message from your significant other and got into a heated argument, texting back and forth. While distracted by your text conversation, you swerved into oncoming traffic and had a horrific accident that resulted in one of your passenger friends suffering a traumatic injury. The cost of caring for their injuries will be quite substantial, given that they will have to spend a lot of time recovering in the hospital, miss work, and potentially be in physical therapy for months, if not years. Your friend plans to sue you for the injuries sustained and plans to testify that you were texting and driving while the accident occurred. Or, imagine that your passenger died, and police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the case. What would you do?
Make Sure You Have Adequate Insurance Coverage
If you didn’t have the right insurance in the above situation, you would be facing a very costly lawsuit that would likely impact your finances for the rest of your life. Therefore, before you agree to carpool with friends or another family, it’s important to make sure you have significant liability coverage. You should consider obtaining a policy that has a minimum of $500,000 liability coverage in the event of an accident so that all expenses suffered by the friend or family you’re driving around are totally covered in the event of an accident. It’s also wise to review whether your auto insurance policy is split-limit or single-limit. A split-limit policy essentially means that the policy will cover a certain amount of damages per person involved in the accident. For example, your policy might be a $300,000 split limit policy, which would payout up to $100,000 for any single person’s injury. On the other hand, a single limit policy has a set amount of coverage per accident and does not cap how much someone can recover when an accident occurs. A carpooling accident can quickly evolve into a costly and complex legal situation. Make sure you’re protected and speak with a knowledgeable attorney after an accident occurs.