Vehicle Owner Liability For Car Accidents in Florida

Vehicle Owner Liability For Car Accidents in Florida

Florida law states the owner of a vehicle is vicariously liable for the negligence of its driver.

For example, let’s assume John lends his car to Tom.  Tom rear-ends Matt and Matt gets injured.  Matt can sue both John (the owner) of the vehicle and Tom (the permissive user) of the vehicle. John’s insurance is primary and Tom’s insurance is secondary.  Matt could recover damages for pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, loss of wages, mental suffering and future loss of income from both Tom and John.  However, Florida law limits the owner’s liability to $100,000.00 per person and $300,000.00 per accident if the negligent driver has combined bodily injury and property damage insurance of more than $500,000.00.  if the driver’s insurance is insufficient, the owner of the vehicle can be liable for up to $500,000 in economic damages to the injured party.

Matt, the person injured in the accident, has automobile insurance.  Therefore, the first $10,000 of Matt’s medical bills are paid through Matt’s own PIP insurance.  Matt can use his health insurance after his PIP benefits have been paid to $10,000.00.  The health insurance carrier would have the right to recover the money paid for medical benefits from any settlement received by Matt from either Tom or John.

Unfortunately, rental car companies cannot be sued for the rental car driver’s negligence.  Rental car companies are protected from suit by a federal law called the Graves Amendment.

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