By: Sarah Stewart Legal Group, PLLC

The National Safety Council estimates that 4.57 million people were injured in automobile accidents in 2017. And more than 40,000 people died from car crashes. With such high numbers, the odds of someone in your household getting into an accident are pretty high.

Liability for auto accidents can bankrupt the person at fault, or the person who owns the vehicle in the crash.  So, how can you protect yourself from liability for your automobiles?

(1) Don’t Put Your Name on a Vehicle You’re Not Driving

If you buy a vehicle for your child, who is over the age of 18, put the vehicle in his or her name.  If you loaned your child money to buy the car, you can place a lien on the car for repayment.  Consider titling vehicles in limited liability companies, or the name of a spouse who has fewer assets.

If a vehicle is in a crash, the other party will sue the owner of the vehicle.  They can only recover assets owned by the titled owner. So, placing automobile titles in the names of the drivers can limit your liability for accidents of your family members.

(2) Be Careful With Minor Drivers

If your driving children are under the age of 18, you can be sued for accidents they cause. Umbrella insurance plans can help alleviate some of the liability, but they, alone, may not be enough. Be sure that your children are responsible enough, and properly trained, to get behind the wheel before you let them drive.

(3) Protect Assets with a Plan

Anyone who owns assets should have a plan to protect them.  The complexity of that plan will depend on how many assets you own.  Make sure you have an estate plan and a plan to protect your assets.

You could own several businesses to limit liability, or title properties into the names of different spouses.  The planning possibilities can be limitless.  So, reach out to a trusted professional to help.

(4) Get Insurance

Be sure your umbrella policies address your business driving needs and cover others who may drive your vehicle.  You will want to have enough insurance to cover your assets.  So, if you have more assets, you will need more coverage. For minors, elderly, and those with mental or physical disabilities, consider higher coverage amounts.

Be aware that coverage does not include illegal situations.  Illegal situations can include drivers who are not listed driving the car and automobiles that were not listed in the coverage.

(5) Get Treatment Immediately

If you’re in an accident, don’t wait too long to seek medical attention.  Health problems that could be avoided with treatment can become far worse if left untreated too long. When you hit your head or have a broken bone, rush to your closest clinic or Emergency Room for treatment.

(6) Get Witness Information

If you are in an accident, be sure to get the names and contact info of any witnesses. If you can’t get names and phone numbers, take pictures of the license plates.  You will want to share this information with your insurance provider and attorney when the time comes.

Chances of you or someone in your household getting into a car wreck are high.  Make sure you and your family are protected.