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Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine May Hold Car Owner Liable for Driver’s Negligence

The law that allows accident victims to recover from the person who caused the accident that caused their injuries is called the law of negligence. While the laws of negligence are complex and can be very confusing, at its core, the law is designed to allow an accident victim to recover from any party whose negligence was a cause of the accident that ultimately resulted in harm to the plaintiff.

crashed-car-921217-mIt goes without saying that the negligent driver who gets into an accident is responsible for the accident. But what about in a situation where a car owner lets another person drive the car and that person is negligent and gets into an accident? In this situation, the law generally allows the accident victim to name both the driver and the car’s owner in a suit for negligence. This legal doctrine is called the “dangerous instrumentality doctrine.”

A Recent Example: Roman v. Bogle

In a recent case in front of a Florida court of appeals, the dangerous instrumentality doctrine is discussed at some length. The facts of the case are as follows: Two people were killed in a car accident when the driver of the car ran a red light, colliding with a semi truck. The family of the passenger (Roman) filed suit against the owner of the car (Bogle) based on the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, although the owner was not even in the car at the time of the accident.

The Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine

The court allowed Bogle to be joined to the suit, explaining the doctrine as follows:

One who authorizes and permits an instrumentality that is peculiarly dangerous in its operation to be used by another on the public highway is liable in damages for injuries to third persons caused by the negligent operation of such instrumentality on the highway by one so authorized by the owner.

In other words, if an owner allows another person to use their car, which is “particularly dangerous,” that owner may be liable for the negligence of the driver. This is not to say that the driver cannot also be held liable. In most cases, if the driver is not deceased, the accident victim will name both the driver and the car’s owner in the suit for damages.

The dangerous instrumentality doctrine is a plaintiff-friendly doctrine that provides Florida accident victims with a means to recover for their injuries through an additional party that may not otherwise be available.

Have You Been Involved in a Florida Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a serious Florida car or truck accident, you should immediately contact an experienced Ocala personal injury attorney. It is possible that, depending on the facts of your case, you or your loved one may be entitled to monetary damages to compensate you for your injuries or loss. To find out more about the laws of negligence in Florida, and to speak to a dedicated Florida personal injury attorney, click here or call 352-387-8700 today.

More Blog Posts:

Discoverability of Medical Records in Florida Personal Injury Actions, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 17, 2014.

Florida Court Corrects Arbitrator’s Error of Law in Recent Court of Appeals Case, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 31, 2014.