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The Permissive Use Doctrine: Albany Car Accident Attorneys Explain What Happens When an Owner Gives Another the Keys

Albany car accidentsCar accident involving the permissive use doctrine can be life changing events, especially when injuries occur. Anger, confusion, and sadness are all normal emotions to experience when pain, financial devastation resulting from the inability to return to work, and diminished quality of daily life become the new norm. It’s important to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who knows the laws in New York in order to determine who all of the necessary parties are to your claim. This is critical to your ability to recover full compensation for your injuries and damages.

Car Accident Liability and the Permissive Use Doctrine

One of the tools that an experienced Albany car accident attorney can use to seek compensation for your injuries is called the “permissive use doctrine” and is found in Section 388 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law. It provides that “[e]very 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 of such owner or otherwise, by any person using or operating the same with the permission, express or implied, of such owner.”

Understanding the Permissive Use Doctrine

Essentially the permissible use doctrine means is that the owner of a vehicle will be liable for injury caused by the negligence of another person to whom the owner gave either express or implied permission to use the owner’s vehicle. This principle of law enables your skillful attorney to bring suit against both the driver and owner and thereby ensure that all available sources of insurance are available to compensate you for your injury and damages.

However, there are exceptions to this rule of liability. The presumption of permissive use can be rebutted by evidence that the driver involved in the accident used the automobile without the owner’s permission.

One case that demonstrates the presumption being rebutted is Bost v. Thomas. Three friends of the owner of the automobile went to her house and requested to use the telephone. After using the phone, and after the owner went to bed, the individuals took the keys to the owner’s car and drove the car out without permission. An accident ensued, and the driver was arrested for Grand Larceny. The owner of the vehicle submitted an affidavit in which she stated that car was taken without her permission. The court ruled that these facts constituted “substantial evidence” that rebutted the presumption of permissive use.

A more recent case, decided in 2011, is Panteleon v. Amaya. The plaintiff, Panteleon, was involved in an automobile accident with defendant, Manrique Canales, who was found to be intoxicated while driving the vehicle. While Canales was the one who negligently drove the car and caused the victim’s injuries, it was defendant Amaya who owned the vehicle involved in the accident. She had loaned the vehicle to Ever Benitez the night before the incident. Defendant Amaya moved to have the case dismissed, and the Court ruled against her.

On appeal, the appellate court considered the evidence – according to Benitez, he knew he was not supposed to loan the car to anyone. Instead, Benitez went to a friend’s house with Amaya, drank too much, and then fell asleep at the friend’s house. When Benitez awoke the following morning, the keys to Amaya’s car were missing, and Benitez learned that Canales took the keys as well as the car. On these facts, the court found that the court below erred and should have granted Amaya’s motion for summary judgment.

It is clear that the permissive use doctrine also cannot be invoked against an Albany car owner whose car is stolen. In this situation, there is no express or implied permission by the owner to use the vehicle.

Finding A Car Accident Attorney That Understands the Permissive Use Doctrine

In many car accident situations, establishing whether or not a driver had express or implied permission requires proper investigation and careful analysis of the factual evidence by an attorney. This is why you should have an experienced Albany car accident attorney to represent you if you’ve been involved in a car accident in the Capital Region.

As practicing Albany car accident attorneys with more than 90 years of combined experience, the legal team at Anderson, Moschetti and Taffany understands how to effectively represent clients who have been injured in car accidents. We have obtained record setting verdicts and settlements for past car accident clients and will work hard to advocate for you or your loved one to ensure that you obtain full compensation following your involvement in an accident.

Call us today for a FREE case evaluation at 518-785-4900. Or, complete our easy online form to schedule your consultation today. There is no obligation.

David J. Taffany

About David J. Taffany

Mr. Taffany is an personal injury lawyer and a founding member of Anderson, Moschetti & Taffany, PLLC in Albany. He specializes in all types of personal injury and wrongful death cases, including complex medical malpractice, products liability and labor law. Read More About David J. Taffany »