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My son was in a car accident. I am shown on the title as an owner with him. Am I liable for anything?

Naples, FL |

My son has terrible insurance from Geico. He is not covered for anything on his own vehicle. He has not been given an opportunity to make a statement. FHP is not cooperating and was at the scene 5 hrs after accident. My son was taken to hospital by ambulance and they showed up at his door last night with a ticket. What are his rights and what are mine as one of the car owners. He hit car from behind after they made a U turn in front of him causing him to hit them. They are now claiming injuries of their three passengers and $6500.00 of property damage. I have no numbers to call FHP as they said their phone is disconnected in Lake County Florida. Please help me.

Attorney Answers 6


  1. In Florida, owners can also be sued for car accidents caused by permissive drivers. Notify your insurance carrier of the accident so that they can defend any claims made. Also consider retaining a traffic attorney to defend the ticket.
    Good luck.


  2. When an individual is involved in a MVA in Florida there may be multiple options to pursue a claim to include the driver, the owner, and/or the employer (if in scope and course of duty). So, there is a possibility that you may be liable as a owner.


  3. Yes, so report it to your insurance company to resolve.


  4. Under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, owners of a car that is negligently maintained or operated can be held liable for damages caused. That being said, it sounds like your son has a reasonable claim for the other party being largely, if not totally, at fault for this. Your insurer has a duty to defend you from the claims from the other parties; and you can't control whether they settle with them. But you can control whether your son files a claim (and possibly a suit) against the driver and owner(s) of the other vehicle for causing his damages. There is a legal presumption in Florida that the rearending driver is at fault; but it is a rebuttable presumption that can be fought at trial with evidence and testimony.

    Most people are not fully aware of the effect their legal case will have on their Financial & Estate Plan. I welcome the opportunity to discuss your unique situation with you so that you will know the financial impact that your case may have. You may find more information in articles, videos, and blog entries on my website www.411FlaLaw.com. Disclaimer: The response above is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, would significantly alter the above response.


  5. I am hopeful that FHP's problems have been resolved since your inquiry three (3) days ago. Generally, it is difficult to pursue a claim if you are the one (in this case, your son) that strike’s another motorist from the rear. There are exceptions, however, such as a sudden stop or even an illegal u-turn. If you are titled as an owner, you have liability if they are able to prove your son’s negligence. Your automobile insurance coverage provides for defending you in this situation if you purchased bodily injury liability coverage.


  6. I suggest that you not be too hasty in making statements to the police or others. This incident should be reported to your liability insurance carrier and ask them to handle this for you. You, as an owner of the vehicle, are equally responsible for damages negligently caused by a permissive driver, assuming this incident took place in the State of Florida, which recognizes the dangerous instrumentality rule.

    If your son believes he is not at fault in causing the incident or only has a limited degree of fault attributable to him, he should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on Avvo.com dealing with many of the issues you are now facing. The Guides can be accessed through my profile page on Avvo.com.

    Legal Disclaimer:

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

    Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

    This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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