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Home » Car Accidents » What is the dangerous instrumentality doctrine?

What is the dangerous instrumentality doctrine?

Your immediate concern after having been involved in a car accident in Naples should be your recovery and/or the repair of your vehicle. Enough stress is associated with these processes; you should not have to worry about dealing with more related to how you are going to afford to pay for them. That should not even be a concern when your accident was caused by someone else. Yet what happens if you discover that the person that hit you was not driving their own vehicle? Your worries about whether or not compensation will be available through insurance coverage might be compounded even further if you also learn that the person that caused your accident had a checkered driving history. 

Why would someone loan a vehicle to such a driver? Should that person not also share in the liability for your accident? According to the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, they can. Per this legal principle (as cited in rulings by Florida’s Supreme Court), the owner of a vehicle can indeed be held responsible if they allow their vehicle to be used by a person whose personal driving history suggests that they are reckless or incompetent behind the wheel (and that person subsequently causes an accident). 

The dangerous instrumentality doctrine may not apply to every car accident caused by one who was not in their own vehicle. Typically the burden of proof is on you to show that they did indeed have the owner’s permission to use the vehicle (this rules out cases involving stolen vehicles or vehicles borrowed without permission) and that the owner knew (or should have known) of the driver’s poor driving history.  

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