Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether a car accident that was caused by an intoxicated employee was covered under the employer’s insurance policy. Specifically, the case required the court to determine if the employee was considered a “permissive user” under the company’s insurance policy. Ultimately, the court concluded that the employee was a permissive user, and therefore the accident was covered under the employer’s insurance policy.
The case presents a valuable lesson for Florida car accident victims in that it illustrates the importance of discovering all available potential avenues for recovery in a personal injury lawsuit. By naming multiple responsible parties, a plaintiff increases their chance of recovery in the event that one named defendant is insolvent or found not to be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was injured in a car accident when the defendant rear-ended him. At the time of the accident, the defendant was traveling for work and operating a company vehicle. It was later determined that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. At the conclusion of that case, a jury awarded the plaintiff nearly $1.5 million in damages. However, the plaintiff was unable to recover that amount from the defendant individually. Thus, the plaintiff sought to hold the defendant’s employer’s insurance company responsible for the damages award.
The insurance company argued that it was not responsible for the accident because the employer’s policy only covered those drivers who were permitted to use company vehicles. The insurance company claimed that by operating the vehicle while intoxicated, the defendant did not have permission to use the vehicle. In support of this position, the insurance company pointed to a company policy prohibiting employees from drinking alcohol while on the job or while operating company vehicles.
The case came down to whether the defendant was considered a permissive user under the policy, despite the fact that he was drinking and driving at the time of the accident. The court held that the defendant was a permissive user, and that the accident was covered under the policy.
The court explained that the question of whether the defendant was a permissive user should focus on the general permission given to use the vehicle, rather than the specific manner in which the defendant operated the vehicle. Here, the court explained, the vehicle was provided to the defendant without any significant limitation on its use. The court then went on to hold that the fact that although the defendant was in violation of company policy when he caused the accident, that did not alter the status of the defendant as a permissive driver. Thus, the insurance company was responsible for the damages award owed to the plaintiff.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida car accident, consider reaching out to the dedicated South Florida personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank. At Friedman Rodman & Frank, we have been representing injury victims for decades, and know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalves. We also offer free consultations to discuss your case, and explain how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schooled your free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Discusses “Coming-and-Going” Rule as It Pertains to Employer Liability, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published July 19, 2018.
Jury Holds Railroad Company Liable for Fatal Train Accident, Court Upholds $10.4 Million Verdict, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 8, 2018.