Written by attorney Lawrence Lazzara Jr.

Arizona's Permissive Use Doctrine

In determining whether an actor's conduct is within the scope of permission, Arizona courts have adopted the "minor deviation rule." James v. Aetna Life & Cas., 26 Ariz. App. 137, 139, 546 P.2d 1146, 1148 (1976). Under this rule, "if the bailee's use is not a gross, substantial, or major violation, even though it may have amounted to a deviation, protection is still afforded to the bailee under the omnibus clause." Id. See also 6C Appleman, Insurance Law and Practice, § 4368, p. 216; 7 Am. Jur., Automobile Insurance § 266, p. 864. A deviation is considered material or major when the "deviation from the purpose for which the permission was originally granted was substantial in terms of duration, distance, time, or purpose." James, 26 Ariz. App. at 139, 546 P.2d at 1148 (citations omitted). Thus, a slight deviation will not change a permitted use into a nonpermitted use. The justification for the minor deviation rule is that it furthers the purpose of the financial responsibility laws to protect the driving public from financial hardship caused by automobiles driven by financially irresponsible persons. See Schecter v. Killingsworth, 93 Ariz. 273, 278, 380 P.2d 136, 140 (1963).

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