You were in a motor vehicle accident and now you’re wondering who will be liable. There are two lines of inquiry that should be pursued initially—potential defendants and potential insurance coverage. This blog article is Part II of a two-part blog that focuses on the former, potential defendants. A subsequent blog article will discuss potential insurance coverage.
There are several categories of potential defendants that should be investigated, discussed below. However, note that these are not exhaustive and each situation should be evaluated individually because analysis is fact intensive and may vary.
Parental or Guardian Liability for a Minor
Another form of vicarious liability is that imposed by Florida Statute Section 322.09, which imposes liability for the negligence (or willful misconduct) of a minor when driving upon the person who “signed the application of such minor for a permit or license.” The statute requires that a minor’s application for a permit or license be signed by the “father, mother, or guardian; by a secondary guardian if the primary guardian dies before the minor reaches 18 years of age; or, if there is no parent or guardian, by another responsible adult who is willing to assume the obligation.” The liability imposed thereby is joint and several, meaning that the parent or responsible adult is liable for the entire amount of damages resulting from the claim. This statute does not necessarily mean that insurance coverage is available for the responsible adult. Therefore, this should be reviewed in the event of an incident (and adults signing an application for a minor should ensure they are covered by an applicable policy with sufficient limits).
Additional Potential Defendants
As noted above, each situation is factually intensive and therefore must be analyzed individually to ensure all potential defendants are identified. For example, if the injured party was within the scope of his or her employment, there may be a worker’s compensation claim to be made. Under certain circumstances, the manufacturer of the vehicle’s tires or the vehicle itself may be liable if a defect contributed to the accident. Similarly, a repair shop or garage may bear some fault if their actions in some way contributed to the crash. Even contractors and state and federal government agencies may bear some responsibility if the motor vehicle accident occurred as a result of improper design or maintenance of the roadways and surrounding areas. On occasion, adjacent property owners may have caused a dangerous condition that resulted in the accident. This is not a comprehensive list of potential defendants, so ensure you seek legal advice to analyze your particular situation.
See Part I—Parents, Legal Guardians, Private and Public Agencies and Entities
This blog articles discusses liability of parents, legal guardians, and certain public and private entities for negligent acts resulting in motor vehicle accidents that cause damage to others. See Part I of this blog for a discussion of other potential defendants, including owners, operators, and employers.
Seek Legal and Medical Services Promptly
For all of the foregoing reasons, it is imperative that a thorough investigation is conducted promptly to identify potential at-fault or liable parties. In addition, there are several additional steps to take immediately in order to preserve your ability to seek compensation for damages incurred, such as seeking prompt medical care from an appropriate medical provider either immediately or within 14 days to make a claim for compensation through your no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) benefits.
Even if you would just like to preserve your right to make a claim at a later date, contact a knowledgeable attorney promptly so you can ensure you do not fail to take important steps within the needed time limitations.
Contact us to discuss your claim and we will be happy to help you navigate the process in the manner most appropriate for your particular situation. We offer you the ability to speak with an actual attorney (in most cases within 24 hours) before choosing a law firm so that you can get to know us and feel comfortable in your choice.