Yes. As the owner of the vehicle you are legally responsible because you gave the driver permission. This should be covered under the insurance on the bike. Your insurance company should hire a lawyer to defend you (and the driver) and should indemnify you (pay the judgment) You should turn the suit papers over to your insurance company sooner rather than later. If you do not have insurance, you should contact the attorney that filed the lawsuit and tell him that. Most likely in the case of no insurance the injured party will file a claim with their own insurance company. You will not need to hire a lawyer if you have insurance, the insurance company will do that for you. If, however, you did not have insurance and you have significant assets, you should hire a lawyer to defend you.
Yes, under Florida's dangerous instrumentality doctrine. The legal theory is that it is foreseeable that your conveyance could get into a wreck on the road and you have allowed someone else to use that conveyance. The law balances the equities between you, the owner who did not personally do anything wrong, and the injured victim. You are liable because your own the injury-producing vehicle. The fact that someone did not go to the hospital after the wreck does not mean they weren't injured. Adrenaline has a way of masking pain and injuries that often manifest themselves within hours or even days. Report the wreck to your insurance company immediately and they will provide you defense counsel pursuant to your insurance contract. Good luck to you.
Yes you can be sued as owner under Florida's Dangerous instrumentality doctrine. They can also join the driver. Going to the hospital does not always (often rarely in soft tissue injury cases, or sometimes more serious but less obvious injury cases, like closed head injuries) determine injury. if you have insurance you should turn the claim over or suit papers to your insurance company. Failure to do so could jeopardize your coverage under a late reporting argument, though its tough to prove the insurance company WAS PREJUDICED).
if you have no insurance most lawyers won't pursue an uninsured defendant, due to the difficulty of collecting a judgement in Florida. Did you ignore any letters from a lawyer earlier in the case? i am surprised they are pursuing you if you were uninsured.
Yes, you can be sued for the negligent driving of your friend, because you are the owner of the vehicle he was driving. You should immediately turn over the suit papers you have received to your insurance carrier. Your carrier has an obligation to defend and indemnify you and the driver to whom you gave permission to operate your vehicle. Do not delay in turning the papers over to your insurance company.
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 insure proper advice is received.
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