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Who is liable in an accident involving an uninsured teen driver?

Getting into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver can be enormously upsetting. Rather than have your injuries and property damage covered by the other party's insurance, you could be left to cover the cost of these things on your own. If you don't have protection against uninsured motorists in your own policy, you can quickly realize that recovering from an accident will not be cheap or easy.

However, just because another driver may not have his or her own insurance does not mean that you are automatically going to be left to pay for your own injuries. In accordance with the dangerous instrumentality doctrine in Florida laws, you may still be able to hold a party accountable for damages if the car is owned by another party.

The dangerous instrumentality doctrine establishes that the owner of a dangerous instrument -- in this case, a vehicle -- can be responsible for any consequences of another person's use of that item.

To illustrate this legal theory, let's look at a situation where you are injured after a teen driver smashes into your car after running a red light.

The teen may not have his own insurance coverage but if he is driving the family car, he may be covered by his parents' insurance policy. The driver's parents (or whoever owns the car) could also be named in a negligence lawsuit, should you choose to pursue one.

Under this same legal theory, it can also be possible for the owner of a car to be held liable for an accident if any other party was driving at the time of the accident. This could include friends, family members, ex-spouses or anyone else placed in control of a motor vehicle. It should be noted, however, that there are several exceptions that may apply to individual cases.

If you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, it is crucial that you understand your rights and options when it comes to making sure you get the help you need, whether this is through insurance or legal claims. Discussing the specifics of your situation with an attorney familiar with personal injury and insurance laws can be crucial.

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  • Martindale-Hubbell Client Champion Silver / 2019
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