By Michael Hancock
The following is one of many car accident questions asked on avvo.com which attorney Mike Hancock answered on October 31, 2013.
Car Accident Question: My car was involved in an accident. I was insured for PIP $10,000 at the time of accident. I am being sued for $9,000 possibly more. I was not driving nor in the car. They are threatening to go for more. If I can not pay the rest etc they are threatening to revoke my license. Is thst possible if I was insured at the time? Isn’t this what insurance is for?
Mike Hancock’s answer: Everyday, I receive e-mail messages and telephone calls with car accident questions just like yours. Florida follows the Dangerous Instrumentalities Doctrine. Your car is considered a dangerous instrument, and the Doctrine imposes liability on the owner of a car if the driver had your permission to drive the car. The person injured can sue you and the driver and collect from either of you. Before doing so, the injured person would have to file a lawsuit against you, go to trial against you, obtain a verdict against you, and render the verdict into a judgment. The person will then try to collect the Judgment against you. During the lawsuit, you will have the opportunity to defend yourself. The injured person has to prove that the driver of your car was negligent, and that his negligence was a legal cause of his injuries and damages. If and when the injured party obtains a judgment against you, Florida’s Bureau of Insurance Compliance can suspend your license until you pay the judgment. However, they can only do so if you failed to carry at least a minimum of $10,000/$20,000 in bodily injury liability insurance. You say you have PIP, so you should also have at least the minimum of $10,000 in property damage insurance that pays for the damage to the other car. You claim you are being sued for $9,000. So, I bet that you either caused $19,000 in property damage, or that the $9000 represents the amount of medical bills incurred by the injured person that were not covered by his own PIP. Often, you will end up being sued by the other person’s insurance company that ends up paying the injured person from an uninsured motorist policy. Your best bet is to try to negotiate a settlement. That is best done by hiring an attorney who can evaluate all aspects of the case.