Stolen at the Carwash: Who’s responsible?

When you give access to your vehicle to a worker and then they drive off with your car and crash it.

Certainly we all have to give someone else access to our vehicles on occassion.  And while it may not be common to have a valet parker or mechanic shop worker steal your car, it can happen.

In recent news, a Boca Raton car wash employee crashed a customer’s vehicle; More specifically, they had driven the car off property to “take it out for a spin.”

The car owner told police he feared that the driver who took his SUV may have “hit another person or caused serious damage.” He said he didn’t know the suspect or give her permission to drive his car.

As a result, police arrested a twenty-year-old carwash employee. The charges included grand theft auto, DUI and leaving the scene of a crash.

What happens if an unauthorized person steals and crashes your vehicle?

Stealing a car is a criminal offence. Therefore, the culprit will be subject to criminal charges if found guilty.  Furthermore, they would be liable for any losses inflicted onto others while in possession of your vehicle.

Hence, the vehicle owner of a stolen vehicle will not be held legally at fault for injuries or damages incurred. But this is the short answer.

It still prompts the question of who will be responsible, or if more than one party is responsible. Consequently, negligence is not always clear.

You can expect for an insurance company to conduct a thorough investigation before taking responsibility for any damages incurred. Regardless, it is a good idea to file a claim immediately following an accident involving your car, even if you were not the driver.

Who will pay for accident damages involving your stolen vehicle?

While every registered vehicle in Florida is obligated to carry PIP/PD insurance, it doesn’t cover damages to your vehicle if it is stolen.

And, several factors must be considered as well. As the owner, an insurance carrier will need to determine if you contributed to the theft in some way. Insurance will likely argue acts of negligence on behalf of the vehicle owner. This may include:

  • Leaving car keys inside the car
  • Leaving your vehicle with the car running and open doors

If say an employee of a car wash steals your car and crashes it, then compensation for losses varies; you may need to bring action against the individual, as well as the company who employed them.

What should you do if your vehicle is stolen and damaged while under the care of a company?

If you’ve entrusted your vehicle to a company and it’s stolen and/or damaged, there are certain legal remedies available to you. In certain circumstances, the company is responsible for the actions of employees  and for any and all damages. 

Call the Law Offices of James G. Graver P.A. accident attorneys. Their attorneys will make sure you rights are protected and that you are fully compensated under the law. For a free case evaluation call 1-888-GRAVER-3 or 561-228-7820; or go to www.graverlaw.com

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