Leesburg Florida car accident lawyer| No good deed goes unpunished
You receive a phone call from a family member. They need a new car and they can’t get the financing. You go with them to the dealer and the dealer tells you that you have to be on the title.
Let me tell you the story in this case. A guy goes out with his soon to be ex-wife and purchases her a car. He is put on the title. His ex-wife lives in a different house, he doesn’t have keys to the house or car, and never drives the car. She goes out and buys insurance on the car. the ex-husband thinks everything is okay. The ex-wife gets in an accident and kills somebody. She did not have enough insurance to pay for the injuries and her ex- husband gets sued.
You maybe saying to yourself is that right? That’s not his car! It’s clearly is ex-wife’s car. In this case, it was clear that the car was not the ex husband’s. He didn’t drive the car, didn’t have keys to the car, had no access to the garage or house where the car was kept. The Florida Supreme Court said he was still the legal owner because he was on the title.
Florida is one of the only states that follows a doctrine called the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. This doctrine holds the owner of a vehicle responsible for the negligent acts of the driver even though the owner had nothing to do with the crash. The ex-husband argued that the dangerous instrumentality doctrine doesn’t apply to him. The Supreme Court specifically stated:
That a person whose name is on the certificate of title of a vehicle as co-owner cannot avoid vicarious liability under the “beneficial ownership” or “naked legal title” exception to vicarious liability under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine.
The moral of the story is that if you chose to buy somebody a vehicle, make sure you have an extra layer of insurance to protect you if that person gets in a wreck.
The best and easiest way to learn all about the Florida car accident process is to download a free copy of my e-book A Guide to Florida Car Accident Claims or if you would like a hard copy of the book – just send me an email at [email protected] or give me a call 352-329-0329