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Car Thefts and Personal Injury

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Home » Blog » Car Thefts and Personal Injury
May 13, 2024
Stolen car  accident

Georgia’s news reports are full of stories about illegal activity. In 2019, there were an estimated 721,885 car thefts in the United States. Whether due to negligent driving or a high-speed police chase, when stolen cars crash, serious problems can result for everyone involved.

It’s always shocking when a criminal act touches us personally. In Atlanta, theft is one of the most common crimes around. Yet, many vehicle owners and accident victims do not know the essential steps they must take to protect their rights after a car theft. 

Why navigate the complex and overwhelming road to justice alone? At Hoffspiegel Law, our legal warriors spring into action when our community needs legal advice. Our attorneys are ready to guide you every step of the way to fair compensation. 

Always Report a Stolen Vehicle

Having your car stolen is inevitably distressing and overwhelming. In the aftermath, taking the proper steps can ensure a smoother process and increase the chances of recovering your stolen vehicle. Also, you can have peace of mind once you ensure you will not be held liable for damages caused by a thief.

Take the following steps to protect your rights if your vehicle has been stolen:

  • Contact the police immediately: Call 911 or the non-emergency number of your local police department to file a police report for your stolen vehicle. Share your car’s VIN, license plate number, make, model, color, and distinctive features to give the law enforcement agency the best chance of locating your car. 
  • Keep good records: Keep a copy of the police report for your records, as your car insurance company will likely request it later. You can also note any clues you noticed at the accident scene. Finally, keep track of your medical bills, including prescription drugs and medical-related travel expenses.
  • Request a free consultation from a lawyer: Dealing with insurers can be nerve-wracking. Our experienced legal team can guide you through the claims process and help you understand your policy coverage. 
  • Notify your insurance company: Immediately report the crime to your insurance company. Late claims, missing paperwork, or filing errors can result in complications or rejected cases. Our capable team members can give these tasks the diligent attention they require, freeing you of the burden of direct communication with your insurer. 

Following these steps could increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. Yet, there is another significant reason to collaborate with the police and your auto insurance company.

Contact a Lawyer If Someone Crashes Your Stolen Car

What if you discover that your car was involved in a car accident? Could you be liable for serious injuries caused by a hit-and-run crash?

Collision protection typically goes with the vehicle, not the driver. If you give someone permission to drive your car, your comprehensive coverage will cover qualifying expenses if that person gets into a car crash.

If someone steals your car, he or she is driving without permission. Car thieves should be responsible for car accident injuries and property damage. Yet, this is not always the case.

Could you have reasonably predicted that your vehicle was likely to be stolen? In this situation, you could be liable if the theft was foreseeable. Let’s consider some intriguing court cases that examined this legal issue.

The Roach v. Dozier case (1958)

A vehicle owner’s relative took his vehicle on a joyride without permission. He had left his car unlocked. The Georgia Court of Appeals needed to decide whether the vehicle owner knew or should have known that his family member would likely take his car.

The Zinck v. Whelan case (1972)

A defendant left the keys in the ignition of an unlocked car. Later, a thief stole the car and got in an accident. The New Jersey court had to decide whether the car owner of a stolen car should be responsible to the injured party in the other vehicle for the damages.

In some states, it is against the law to leave your car unattended with keys in the ignition or visible in another part of the vehicle. In some cases, breaking this rule makes you liable for damages caused by a stolen vehicle accident.

Even if there is no such statute where you live, how you secure your vehicle may affect your legal options after a theft. Car owners should keep ignition keys hidden from sight so prospective car thieves cannot easily find them. 

Courts assess whether there was a reasonably foreseeable risk that a thief would steal the defendant’s car and harm a third party when considering car crashes involving stolen vehicles.

Contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately if you are facing the aftermath of a stolen vehicle accident. 

Stolen Vehicle Accidents – Rely on Your Insurance Company 

Suppose a stolen car crashes into you. Since the at-fault driver is a thief, he or she flees the scene to avoid liability.

Though the thief driving the stolen vehicle is at fault, the owner of the stolen car is also a victim, creating legal ambiguities. Would you feel overwhelmed and vulnerable facing the legal complexities that would follow such a hit-and-run accident? If so, you are not alone.

The legal warriors of Hoffspiegel Law have assisted hundreds of accident victims in pursuing justice. An accident caused by an at-fault party in a stolen vehicle is a complex situation, but our resourceful and insightful car accident team is ready to help you recover damages.

Georgia is an at-fault state, meaning the driver who causes the accident is liable to the injured parties. His or her insurance policy should pay for damages like medical expenses and lost wages.

The parties involved might need to rely on their own insurance policies to pay for vehicle damage and medical bills if the driver of a stolen car causes an accident. This is one reason why Georgia motorists are required to carry automobile liability insurance coverage. 

Liability insurance pays damages to other drivers if you cause an accident. Most insurers offer optional extra coverage, so you should ask your attorney to review your policy limits.

The minimum liability policy limits are $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $50,000 per accident for property damage.

Physical damage insurance covers loss or damage to the policyholder’s vehicle. Two common types of physical damage insurance are comprehensive insurance and collision coverage

Comprehensive insurance pays for loss or damage to the owner’s vehicle due to theft, vandalism, and fire. Collision coverage pays for losses, such as car repairs or the replacement of totaled vehicles, after car accidents.

Uninsured motorist coverage covers the policyholder if the at-fault driver does not have a car insurance policy or flees the scene of the accident without sharing insurance information.

Until the police catch the culprit, you cannot hold the thief liable for damages. A lawyer can help determine whether you can file a claim for auto accident damages with your own car insurance company.

Personal injury protection (PIP) and MedPay are optional types of extra insurance coverage in Georgia, though some no-fault states might require them. 

File a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Many car thieves will face criminal charges and jail time. Yet, even if a car thief avoids an arrest, you may have legal options. You can file a personal injury claim for your injuries from a car theft accident. 

The Hoffspiegels are here to help you hold the responsible party accountable for the harm caused by his or her actions. 

If a stolen car accident caused you losses, we urge you to contact our personal injury team for a complimentary consultation. No matter where you are in Atlanta, justice can reach you. Visit our North Atlanta office or call us at (404) 760-8600 to learn about our services across the Southeast.