Can I sue for property damage if my car was unoccupied at the time of an accident?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Can I sue for property damage if my car was unoccupied at the time of an accident?

A driver of an alleged stolen car ran into the back of my car; it was parked of front of my residence at the time of the collision. When I filed a claim through the owner of the car’s insurer, however, my claim was denied. I was then notified that the car was reported stolen by the owner. The police were already on the scene when I got outside and I have a police report number but not the complete report.

Asked on August 2, 2019 under Accident Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the driver--the alleged car thief--since he is liable for driving carelessly and hitting your vehicle.
You can't sue the car's owner or that person's insurer if the car had been stolen, as it evidently was if a theft was reported. A car's owner (and therefore also their insurer) is not responsible for what a thief does with the car, since the owner had no control over the thief or his/her actions.

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