A new bill signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger last week and taking effect January 1st will permit Californians to share their personal cars in carsharing pools without risking the loss of their personal auto insurance coverage. The new law aims to make clear that personal vehicle sharing does not constitute a commercial use of the vehicle. The law also aims to make sure that the individual car owner is not held liable for losses that arise when the vehicle is used for personal vehicle sharing.
We applaud the efforts of those who made this bill possible. What remains to be seen however is how the law will actually play out when accidents or injuries occur as a result of someone driving a shared vehicle, or when a shared vehicle malfunctions and causes an accident, injury, or even wrongful death. While car sharing service such as ZipCar and CityCarShare are responsible for maintaining and insuring a fleet of shared vehicles, there will be no central agency responsible for these same activities at personal car sharing services. Rather, all issues will most likely be resolved through a supplemental insurance program.
If you are injured or have property damaged by someone driving a shared car, you may encounter additional difficulties in securing compensation. It is possible that the various different parties will all try and defer responsibility. This is especially true if you are injured while on a bicycle, motorcycle, or as a pedestrian, since injuries stemming from accidents to someone biking or walking are often more serious then injuries from accidents involving two cars.
At the Dolan Law Firm, we have a proven track record of finding the responsible parties and holding them accountable. It shouldn’t matter whether the person who injured you or your property owns the car they were driving. If you were injured by someone driving a shared vehicle, we will bring our years of expertise to bear on making sure you are compensated fully and in a timely manner.