Life can get complicated fast when you have an accident in a borrowed car or when someone is borrowing your car and has an accident with it. Accidents are seldom anticipated, but they happen all the time. In the case of a borrowed car, the consequences can be devastating for the uninformed owner.
When You Are Borrowing the Car
Most people believe if you have car insurance, any car you drive is covered. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Car insurance covers the vehicle but not necessarily the driver, when the driver is borrowing the car involved in the accident. The primary insurance coverage in an accident is that of the vehicles involved. If the damages are beyond the amount carried on the vehicles, the borrower’s insurance may then be used as secondary coverage.
Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine
Florida law has a stipulation regarding dangerous tools and instruments, and that extends to motor vehicles. Basically, it says if the owner of a dangerous instrument or tool, in this case, a vehicle allows another person to use it, the owner of the dangerous instrument or tool is responsible for any injuries that may result in a case of misuse of negligence. Florida Statute 324.021 details the owner’s liability.
When a friend or relative is borrowing the car, you are responsible if they are involved in an accident, under the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine. Therefore, if you choose to lend your vehicle to another person, you want to be sure that person is a very safe and responsible driver. People who have been unaware of this law have had rude awakenings as their finances were drained because the person borrowing the car was involved in an accident.
There are extenuating circumstances where this rule can be excluded; however, in order to be exempt, you would need legal representation familiar with the law, and you would need to meet certain criteria regarding ownership of the vehicle.
The Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine is undoubtedly a reason to think twice about lending your vehicle to another driver. Loaning your car has grave implications for you, the owner. If you decide to allow someone else to drive your car, be sure to take all the precautions you can: Make sure insurances are up to date, the car is safe for the road, and, most importantly, the person driving is qualified to drive and is a person you can trust to drive safely and defensively.
The lawyers at Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A., are specialists in personal injury law. When there is a personal injury case and you are seeking fair compensation, we are the firm to turn to for attorneys who will fight for you. We have offices in the southwest Florida communities of Port Charlotte, North Port, and Englewood, to serve you. Contact us today at (941) 979-9010 for a free consultation.