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Florida Lawyer Answers Auto Accident Question

December 30, 2009

The following is an expert answer given by Florida Auto Accident Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Question: I had two friends who were in an accident. Their car was stopped in traffic when a vehicle rear ended it at 50-60mph sending it into another car. The car was completely totaled. Emergency personnel on scene said there was enough damage from the impact that the airbags should have deployed, but they did not. Is there anything that can be done about that?  Also, the name on the title was in the female’s mother’s name, but it is her car that she drives on a daily basis. Her boyfriend was the one driving at the time of the accident.  Does it make a difference with who was driving vs.who is on the title as far as the insurance company for the at-fault driver is concerned? They would be paying for the medical bills and for the car that is now totaled.

Answer:
It depends on where your friend’s accident occurred.  I am a Florida auto accident lawyer specializing in car accidents, slip and falls, and work accidents.  Your email doesn’t indicate what state the accident happened in.  Laws vary from state to state, so make sure you speak with an accident attorney in your state.

If the car accident occurred in Florida, it does not matter if the owner of the car was not driving it at the time of the accident.  Florida recognizes the "Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine" which imposes liability on the owner of a car involved in an accident, just as if they had been driving the car themselves when the accident occurred.  The one requirement for liability under the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine is that the driver of the car at the time of the accident must have had permission to drive the car when the accident occurred.  If the driver had permission, then the owner is responsible for whatever damages were caused by the boyfriend driver.

In Florida, the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine has been held to even apply in accidents where a car is not involved.  It has been used in accidents involving boats, planes, motorcycles, tractors, and rental car companies, although rental car companies how have statutory protections as to how much, and under what circumstances, a person can recover.

Regarding the air bag, it is fairly common that air bags do not deploy even though they should have.  If your friends suffered injuries in the accident that could have been prevented by the air bags, they may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the car.  If they want to pursue such a claim, it is critical that they make sure the car is not destroyed, or altered until their accident injury lawyer can investigate the accident, and why the air bags did not deploy.

My advice for your friends is to speak with an experienced accident injury attorney as soon as possible.  It is important for them to preserve any evidence which is available, such as the vehicle, and an attorney will be able to help identify the evidence that is most critical.  Once the evidence has been destroyed, it can make it very difficult, if not impossible, to bring a claim.

 

For more information if you have been involved in an auto accident in Florida, contact Florida auto accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus, P.A.at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today.

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