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Motor Vehicle Crashes

Who pays for the damage to my car when I am not at fault? Since property damage — liability coverage is mandatory in Florida, in most cases the at fault party’s insurance carrier pays for the damage or total loss. However, not everyone complies with the law. To protect against this situation or having to deal with an fault party’s uncooperative insurance company, a vehicle owner can purchase collision coverage under his/her own policy. The carrier will cover, less the deductible, the loss then seek reimbursement from the at fault party or his/her insurance company.

I have PIP and Property Damage – Liability insurance coverage. Will either of these coverages, both of which are required in order to register my vehicle in Florida, compensate me for the severe pain I am experiencing from my personal injuries? No. Only two types of motor vehicle insurance cover this type of damage. They are Bodily Injury (BI) and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM). BI is the at-fault driver’s or vehicle owner’s insurance, while UM/UIM is the injured person’s own coverage. Neither is mandatory in Florida.

Are co-owners of a vehicle equally liable for a crash caused by one of the owners? Yes. Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine, a part of Florida jurisprudence since 1920 (Southern Cotton Oil Co. v. Anderson, 80 Fla. 441, 86 So. 629 (1920)), holds motor vehicle owners vicariously liable for damages caused by the negligent operation of their vehicles by permissive users and co-owners. Florida Statute 324.021(9)(b)(3) caps the amount of damages for which an owner is responsible for the negligence of someone to whom the vehicle has been loaned. The statute does not cap damages on any owner for the negligent operation of the vehicle by a co-owner. See, Ortiz v. Regalado, So.3d. , 38 FLW D502a (Fla. 2d DCA 3-1-13).

Is the owner of an all-terrain vehicle (“ATV”) who voluntarily entrusts that ATV to an individual whose negligent operation causes damage to another strictly liable for those damages? As of July 16, 2013, the date this post was published, the answer to this question in Florida is unknown. For strict vicarious liability to apply the vehicle must be a “dangerous instrumentality.” This is a legal definition that is met by satisfying three elements. With regard to ATVs, the elements have not been considered by any Florida appellate court. We came close to an answer in Salsbury v. Kapka, 41 So. 3d 1103 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010).

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