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Permissive Use Doctrine in New York

When involved in a car accident in New York, there are many initial concerns that you may have after the collision. Personal injury and property damages need to be assessed, the facts of the story leading up to the collision need to be determined and reported, and finally, you need to decide whether or not you would like to recover damages from the person who was responsible for the accident. Though no-fault insurance plays a major role in recovery, this type of insurance requires that the parties involved not only have the insurance but are covered by it up to the maximum amount. The analysis of your case gets more difficult when the driver is not the owner of the vehicle; in this case, can you recover from the driver, the owner, or both? 

New York's Permissive Use Doctrine

The permissive use doctrine, outlined in Section 388 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, provides that if the owner of the car and the driver of the car in the specific accident are two different people, liability may be attached to the owner of the car, who was not actually in the accident. The law states that the owner of the vehicle may be responsible for death and/or injuries to the person or his property if the owner gave express or implied permission to the driver of the car. The purpose of permissive use doctrine is to ensure that the injured party has as many available sources for recovery as necessary to compensate for the injury or damages.

How to Invoke the Permissive Use Doctrine?

When attempting to invoke the permissive use doctrine, the first step is to determine whether the driver of the car had express or implied permission from the owner to use the car. This involves analysis of the factual evidence and circumstances that led to the driver obtaining the keys and getting into the car in the first place. A driver of a stolen vehicle, for example, would not fall under the permissive use doctrine because by virtue of stealing the car, he had no express or implied permission. Several other questions may be asked to determine if permission was given:

  • Is there any evidence to show express permission was given to the driver?

  • Has the driver been given express permission in the past to drive the car?

  • Why was the driver given express permission? Was the use of the car for the benefit of the driver or the owner or both?

  • How long was the driver in possession of the car before the accident?

  • Is the driver named under the same insurance as the owner?

  • What was the scope of the use that the driver was given permission?

Implied consent can often be difficult to prove but past express consent to use the car, a close relationship between the owner and the driver, and whether the owner did or said anything to imply that consent had been given or withdrawn in the past are all considerations in a case.

New York Personal Injury and Car Accident Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in New York City, and the driver is not the same person as the owner of the car, permissive use doctrine may play a role in the recovery of damages in your case. Please contact one of our experienced Manhattan personal injury lawyers at Keogh Crispi, P.C. Our attorneys can evaluate the facts of your case and determine whether the owner gave express or implied consent to the driver involved in the accident. Call us today at 212- 818-0600 or contact us through our website.

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