Should I Let Someone Else Drive My Car?
Maybe you have a coworker who wants to borrow your fancy vehicle to take a date out on the town. Or maybe a friend’s vehicle has knocked off and he or she has been eyeballing the extra car you own that usually stays parked. Either way, you should think twice before you allow someone else to take over the keys. Because you are trying to do a good deed, you probably aren’t thinking about any potential consequences. That means that you may not think about an accident until you receive a call that one has happened in your car. And if that scenario happens and you think that because you’re not driving, you’re not responsible, you should unfortunately think again.
Understanding Your Potential Liability
It is obviously less than ideal to have to wrap your mind around the fact that you could end up being responsible for something someone else did while behind the wheel of a vehicle you own. Before agreeing to anything, you should be fully aware of the liability you could be exposed to when you are not driving or even in your car. 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 because of something called the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine. Approximately a century ago, the Florida Supreme Court decided that cars are dangerous instruments, meaning that they are inherently hazardous by nature. Therefore, liability can be imposed upon the owner of the vehicle who allowed someone else to borrow it and then subsequently collided into an unrelated party.
And if you’re thinking this concept is antiquated and never utilized these days, this is unfortunately not accurate. Just a few years ago, a young man was sentenced to life in prison after a night of heavy partying concluded with the young man allowing his roommate to borrow his car. The roommate and others used the car to commit a robbery and murder while the young man slept – but he still ended up with substantial criminal consequences.
While there is much more to the situation referenced above, the bottom line is you should think carefully about both the civil and criminal ramifications of a worst case scenario before agreeing to let anyone borrow your vehicle.
Does Every Situation Trigger Liability?
In short, no. You generally won’t be responsible if you never gave permission, such as if your car was stolen. The law has many gray areas and you will likely need competent legal help 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. One of the best things you can do in any car accident scenario is seek the assistance of a lawyer experienced in car accident injury claims. 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. Contact us today to begin with a free consultation.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Fort Lauderdale, Ocala, Tampa, Bradenton, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Miami, Orlando and Daytona Beach areas.