Liability When the Driver Of the Car is Not the Owner
The News-Press recently reported that a 2003 silver Mercury Sable was involved in a minor collision without the knowledge of the car owner. Authorities have uncovered that the owner’s dog accidentally hit the shift gear into reverse causing the car to circle a cul-de-sac while concurrently leaving the owner locked out of the car. Unfortunately, the dog in this case apparently figured out more than any human bargained for. The good news is that no one was injured in this incident.
However, this also brings up an interesting question: are you liable if someone else crashes your car?
Why Would Another Driver Have an Accident in Your Car?
Maybe you loan your car to a family member who doesn’t currently have a vehicle and needs to get to work. Or maybe a friend calls and wants to borrow your pickup truck to move furniture to a new home. There are many circumstances in which another driver may end up behind the wheel of your car.
While you were simply trying to do a good deed, you may not have contemplated the prospect of an accident until you receive a call that an accident has happened in your car. In that case, your first thought is likely that because you’re not driving, you’re not responsible. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
What is the Law in Florida?
In Florida, a driver can be liable for a car accident even if he or she is miles away at the time of the crash. In these cases, the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine may be available to impose liability upon the owner of the vehicle who allowed someone else to borrow it. This doctrine is often utilized in car accident cases in which the driver who negligently caused the accident is not the owner of the vehicle and is not named on the vehicle’s liability insurance policy. Despite the fact that the bulk of other states do not consider a vehicle to be a dangerous instrumentality (something inherently hazardous by its nature), the Florida Supreme Court actually extended the designation to vehicles in a decision it issued almost a century ago. Therefore, in these cases, the owner of the vehicle can be liable for allowing another driver to use his or her vehicle.
The bottom line – think twice about allowing someone else to use your car. It can come back to bite you if an accident happens and someone is injured. And as we all know, accidents are completely unpredictable and can happen at any time.
We Advocate For Car Accident Victims.
Regardless of whether your car has been involved in an accident after you loaned it to a friend or family member or whether you or someone you love has been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligent behavior, you will likely need competent legal help. As the Fort Myers personal injury attorneys at The Pendas Law Firm, we have substantial experience successfully fighting for people who have been victims of others’ negligence. We have the experience that you need to help you recover the compensation you are entitled to. Contact us today to begin.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Fort Lauderdale, Ocala, Tampa, Bradenton, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Miami, Orlando and Daytona Beach areas.