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Posted 06/07/2023 in Personal Injury by Erik Abrahamson

Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine In Florida - What You Need To Know

Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine In Florida - What You Need To Know

The Florida dangerous instrumentality doctrine is a law that holds motor vehicle owners responsible for injuries and damages caused by their vehicle when they lend it to someone else. In essence, the doctrine makes owners of dangerous instruments, such as motor vehicles, liable for any harm caused by the instrument. Florida courts have recognized that vehicles qualify as dangerous instrumentalities under this law. If you're wondering about the implications of this doctrine or need legal guidance regarding a potential case, it's best to consult with an experienced attorney who can provide you with the necessary information and assistance.

Car Accident Claims and the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine in Florida

The Florida dangerous instrumentality doctrine, also known as vicarious liability, can have an impact on your car accident claim in Florida. It is a common misconception that lending a vehicle to someone else will release the owner of liability if an accident occurs. However, under the Florida dangerous instrumentality doctrine, the vehicle owner can still be held liable. The reasoning behind this doctrine is that certain items, like motor vehicles, have the potential to be so dangerous that it should not be permissible for the legal owner to evade any legal responsibility if an innocent person is injured by the vehicle driven by someone else. This doctrine extends to all passenger vehicles, including cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans. 

In Florida, the driver and vehicle owner could both be held responsible for damages caused by the driver's negligence. It is worth noting that this doctrine does not apply to long-term lessees. However, there is a significant difference between Florida's dangerous instrumentality doctrine and vicarious liability in other states, as other states usually require proof of owner negligence. It's important to note that Florida vehicle owners can still be held responsible under this doctrine even if the accident occurs out of state. If you need assistance with your dangerous instrumentality doctrine case, contact an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer.

Are There Exceptions To Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine?

Determining whether the dangerous instrumentality doctrine applies to a situation depends on several factors. Here are some instances where the doctrine may not apply:

  • Car Theft - The doctrine applies only to those who permit someone else to drive their vehicle. If the owner can prove that the person who caused the accident did not have permission to drive the vehicle, such as in the case of a vehicle thief, then the owner would not be held liable.

  • Shop Rule - In some cases, the doctrine may not apply to auto mechanics, valet parking attendants, and body shop employees who have permission to drive the vehicle. The shop rule holds that vehicle owners who entrust their vehicle to an auto body shop or service station will not be responsible for any negligence on behalf of the shop employees. This exception also applies to damage caused by valet drivers.

  • Rentals, Leases, and the Graves Amendment - Rental cars and leased vehicles fall under the exception clause of vicarious liability. The leasing company or rental agency retains the vehicle title, but they are not responsible for the renter's or lessee's actions while driving the vehicle. This exception falls under the Graves Amendment, which excludes rental car companies from vicarious liability for injuries caused by their customers unless someone can prove that the rental car company's actions or negligence contributed to the accident.

  • Recent Sale - If the owner sold the vehicle, and the new buyer caused an accident before changing the title, the previous owner may not be liable. This exception to vicarious liability applies if the accident occurred before the previous owner had a reasonable amount of time to change the title.

Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine - Can A Trucking Company Be Sued?

In the event that you have been injured in a truck accident, you may have the option to sue the trucking company under the vicarious liability doctrine. This principle is based on respondeat superior, which dictates that an employer is accountable for its employees' actions while on the job. Therefore, if a truck driver is responsible for a collision due to negligence, the trucking company can be held accountable for the resulting damages. 

To prove vicarious liability, it must be established that the truck driver was an employee of the trucking company, was under the company's control, and was working at the time of the accident. If these factors are established, you could potentially receive significant compensation from the trucking company's insurance policy. It's highly recommended that you speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can assist you in navigating the complexities of a vicarious liability lawsuit against a trucking company.

Should I Hire A Lawyer For A Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine Lawsuit?

If you are facing a dangerous instrumentality doctrine lawsuit in Florida, it's important to seek help from a skilled car accident lawyer as soon as possible. These cases can be complex and require specialized legal knowledge to navigate successfully. An experienced injury attorney can guide you through the process, help you understand your rights, and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Don't go through this alone - contact a Florida car accident lawyer today to discuss your options and get the support you need. Remember, time is of the essence, so act quickly to protect your rights and secure your future.

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