What is the dangerous instrumentality doctrine? | Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Sosa

What is the dangerous instrumentality doctrine?

The expenses arising from an injury you sustain in a car accident in West Palm Beach can quickly become inordinate. Your hope is that whomever caused your accident has adequate insurance coverage to help pay for them. Yet what if the person that hit you was not even driving their own vehicle? Worse yet, what is you discover that said driver had a history of reckless driving, and yet another still entrusted them with their vehicle? Your frustration in such a scenario is certainly understandable, not only over the fact that the driver who hit you probably should not have been driving at, but also at the prospect of having issues securing insurance coverage due to the vehicle not being their own. 

Fortunately, Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine allows you to assign vicarious liability to the owner of the vehicle that caused your accident. A 2000 ruling issued by the Supreme Court of Florida defined this doctrine as “[O]ne 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.”

The motive behind this doctrine is to assign a level of accountability to those willing to loan their vehicles out to anyone and everyone. Yet notice that the definition states that one must authorize and permit another to use their vehicle in order for the doctrine to apply. Thus, cases where someone took a vehicle without the owner’s permission would not be covered by this rule. 

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