Chances are that you have probably allowed someone to borrow your car because they needed it. You might not have given any thought to the consequences if they are involved in an accident while driving your car and whether you could be held liable to pay damage claims, despite being nowhere near the car when it happened.
Naturally, you might assume that since someone else was driving your car, they should be held accountable for any liabilities due to the accident. However, that is not necessarily the case, and you should always inform yourself of the legalities of letting someone borrow your car before you hand the keys over.
It is possible for you to be held responsible for a car accident caused by the negligence of someone who borrowed your car. Before agreeing to have someone else drive your car, you should learn about the duties and obligations you may have to injured parties if there is a car accident.
This post will cover what you need to know about the obligations for a vehicle owner if someone else driving his or her car is involved in an accident. Additionally, we will cover what your rights are against the owner of a vehicle if you are injured in such an accident.
Florida Law Regarding Situations When Someone Borrows Your Car
Florida is a no-fault state. This means that all vehicle owners in the state and motorists are required to carry Personal Injury Protection coverage of at least $10,000 as part of their auto insurance policies. PIP coverage pays the medical bills for the driver or occupants of a vehicle in case it is involved in an accident, regardless of who was at fault in causing the accident.
PIP coverage also pays for lost wages and other out-of-pocket expenses related to the car accident. PIP coverage on your car is the primary source for the compensation you may be eligible for when you suffer an injury in a car accident. According to the no-fault law, the coverage of your policy may extend to members of your family residing in your household, passengers in your vehicle, pedestrians, or bicycle riders struck by your vehicle, as well as someone else driving your car.
Therefore, if someone borrows your car and is involved in an accident while driving it, the passengers in the car, the person who borrowed your car, and any pedestrians who suffer personal injuries can submit their claims for possible compensation to your insurance provider.
Injured drivers or occupants of other vehicles involved in the accident can do the same with their insurance provider.
Owners Are Responsible For The Operation Of Their Vehicles
The state of Florida accomplishes several important goals by being a no-fault state. One of the primary reasons for no-fault laws is to limit the number of possible personal injury lawsuits and reduce the burden on the legal system in a way that ensures everybody has their rights preserved.
Injured parties must file their claims for compensation through their own insurance companies instead of against the at-fault parties for damages. However, there are instances in which at-fault parties can be sued in car accident cases, including:
- If a person died due to the other driver’s negligence.
- The accident results in significant and permanent loss of important body functions, such as the loss of a limb.
- The accident causes substantial and permanent scars.
- The accident causes injuries that a doctor determines as a permanent injury.
Suppose someone driving your vehicle is involved in a car accident that causes severe enough injuries that meet the criteria above. In that case, the owner of the vehicle and the negligent driver could both be liable parties in the resulting lawsuit. The owner of a vehicle does not necessarily need to be in their vehicle at the time of the accident to be considered liable to pay for the damages.
Holding vehicle owners responsible for the injuries or damages caused by another driver operating their vehicle might seem unfair. However, the State of Florida considers vehicles as dangerous instruments in car accident cases. According to the dangerous instrument doctrine, owners should bear responsibility for covering the damages caused when their vehicles are involved in accidents.
Attorneys in Florida for individuals injured in an auto accident in the state must prove a few important things to hold an owner who was not driving the vehicle at the time of the accident accountable to cover the damages, including:
- The party was the owner of the car or type of motor vehicle involved in the accident.
- The party entrusted with driving the vehicle was negligent in operating the vehicle and caused the injuries to another person.
- The owner of the vehicle allowed another party to drive the vehicle.
If you own a vehicle with your spouse, that can make you and your spouse liable in case of a car accident involving your vehicle. Both owners can be held liable to cover the damages if someone other than the two was driving the vehicle and caused an accident.
Get Sound Legal Advice From An Injury Lawyer In Florida
The liability of vehicle owners for car accidents caused by the negligence of drivers depends on evidence proving that the owners gave permission to the driver to operate the vehicle. Permission can be expressed, as when your friend asks to borrow your car and you hand them the keys. Permission can also be simply implied by the owner.
You could prove implied permission by evidence that shows a prior course of conduct between the owner and the driver. For instance, if your child has been using your car with your knowledge to drive to school every day for the last two months, it can imply that your child has your permission to do so.
Florida law can limit the liability of an owner for the negligence of a driver in similar situations. The limit is $100,000 for injuries to one person and up to $300,000 for injuries caused to multiple victims at the same time.
Working with a personal injury lawyer in Florida is well-advised when you need to go through the legal process of seeking adequate compensation for your losses. Similarly, it is wise to find a personal injury lawyer, even when an accident was caused by another driver operating your vehicle, so that you can potentially limit your liability due to their negligence.
Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers specialize in helping their clients deal with personal injury cases. This includes giving sound legal advice to car owners whose vehicles have been involved in accidents caused by someone else operating their vehicles. Our firm can determine the best course of action and help you with your claim so that you can seek the compensation you deserve and limit your liability, if applicable.
Based in Palm Beach, the lawyers from Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers have several years of experience helping their clients deal with a wide range of car accident cases and protecting their right to fair compensation. If you’re looking for a West Palm Beach injury lawyer, working with Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers can help you build a strong case and have the best possible outcome for the car accident case in Florida (by appointment).