Stumbling back to his bedroom, Roy is exhausted yet exhilarated. His party
was a success. Sure there are still a few people in the house, one of
whom he had just met, but he does not mind. All he can think of right
now is sleep.
Roy wakes up six hours later to an empty house. He looks outside and discovers
that his car is missing, so too are those belonging to two of his evening
guests. He quickly calls the police to report his vehicle as being stolen.
When the officer runs Roy’s license plate, he informs that Roy’s
car was involved in an automobile accident.
The driver, Howard, drove drunk and ran into two other vehicles. Howard
is the man Roy just met last night and he certainly never told Howard
that he could use his car.
From the other side of town, Bobby grabs his father’s keys from the
kitchen table and yells, “I’m taking the Mustang out for a
spin.” Dad replies, “Be back by nine, and no speeding!”
Just thirty minutes later, the phone rings and Dad answers to hear a frantic
and crying Bobby declaring, “I crashed the car…I didn’t
even notice the stop sign!”
Did you notice a glaring distinction between the two hypothetical examples
above? The difference is that Roy never gave Howard permission to use
his vehicle; he had only known Howard for the duration of a party. Dad,
on the other hand, did give Bobby permission to use the Mustang.
Both drivers apparently operated the car negligently. Will both owners
be liable for the harm caused by those negligent drivers?
The answer lies in a statute well known to
experienced Poughkeepsie, New York car accident attorneys. According to New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 388, “every
owner of a vehicle used or operated in this state shall be liable and
responsible for death or injuries to person or property resulting from
negligence in the use or operation of such vehicle, in the business or
such owner or otherwise, by any person using or operating the same with
the permission express or implied, of such owner.”
This is known as the
permissive use doctrine and it is extremely important in car accident cases like that, which is
detailed in the hypotheticals above. It means that Roy will probably not
be liable for the injuries that Howard caused because Howard did not have
permission to drive Roy’s car. Bobby did have permission to use
his father’s car, and as such, Dad can be liable for the young man’s
Our personal injury attorneys at
Mainetti, Mainetti, and O’Connor, P.C. have over 100 years of combined experience working with victims of personal
injury accidents throughout New York. We understand how to effectively
represent clients who have been injured in serious car accidents, particularly
throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley region in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, and
Newburgh where we have offices. Hear
what our clients are saying about us here and learn about just some of our
successful results here. If you or a loved one has been injured in a personal injury accident,
please do not hesitate to contact us by calling 845-340-HURT (4878) or
toll free at 866-440-4452, or by using the
convenient contact form here.