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    When Can a Third Party Be Held Liable for a Car Accident?

    When injuries or vehicle damage sustained in a car accident leads to a lawsuit, the defendant is typically one of the drivers involved. In certain cases, however, a third party who was not even at the scene of the accident may be held liable. Here are a few situations that may give rise to third-party liability for a car accident under Florida law:

    • Vicarious liability. The doctrine of vicarious liability refers to situations in which one party is held responsible for the negligent actions of another party who was under their control. For instance, this doctrine may be used to hold an employer responsible if an employee caused a car accident while driving for work purposes. To establish vicarious liability in such a case, the plaintiff must show that the at-fault driver was acting in the course and scope of their employment; accidents that occur while the employee is commuting to or from work would generally exempt the employer from liability.
    • Dangerous instrumentality doctrine. This doctrine is based on the notion that a vehicle is an inherently dangerous tool—and the owner of the vehicle is in the best position to ensure that it is operated safely, even when they are not driving it themselves. Therefore, if the owner allows someone else to use their vehicle and that person causes an accident, the owner may be held liable.
    • Road defects. If roadways are so poorly maintained that they are dangerous for drivers to use—for instance, if traffic signals are broken or missing, or if there are large potholes—the municipality or other entity responsible for maintaining the roads may be held liable for accidents that occur as a result.
    • Defective vehicle parts. If vehicles are manufactured with serious design flaws, faulty parts, or other safety-related defects, they may cause accidents through no fault of the drivers. These cases often lead to product liability lawsuits against the vehicle manufacturer.

    If you have been involved in a car accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can help determine which parties may be held liable. At Leighton Panoff Law, we have extensive knowledge of all Florida laws that may affect car accidents, as well as several years of experience litigating these types of cases. Call us today at 888.988.1774 to schedule a consultation with our team

    Article by:

    John Leighton

    A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite


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