Any automobile accident attorney in Tampa will tell you that the concept of vicarious liability has a major influence on the way many auto accident injury cases are handled. Vicarious liability has its origins in Southern Cotton Oil Co. v. Anderson, a 1920 case in which the Florida Supreme Court ruled that authorizing another person to operate your vehicle will not absolve you of liability for any damages that result. In other words, if you loan a friend your car, you as the owner of the vehicle can be held financially responsible if there is an accident. This is what an automobile accident attorney means when he or she speaks of vicarious liability.
The theory behind vicarious liability is that car owners are in the best position to make certain that their automobiles are properly insured, and should be held accountable for when they loan or entrust their cars to others. Over the years, Florida courts have ruled that vicarious liability applies not just to passenger vehicles but also to golf carts, buses, airplanes, and farm equipment.
If you have been hurt in an auto accident, vicarious liability is a mechanism by which you can increase your chances of winning financial compensation. Not only do you have recourse against the negligent driver of the other vehicle, but through vicarious liability, you may also have recourse against the vehicle’s owner. Liability can also extend to anyone who has an “identifiable property interest” in the car, such as in a lease-to-own arrangement.