I Let My Friend Drive

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Q: One Sunday, Fred and his father stopped by my home and asked if Fred could try my all-terrain vehicle, as his father was thinking about buying him one.  I agreed, and gave him instructions on how to drive it.  During a second run around my driveway, going downhill, Fred panicked and engaged the throttle.

Realizing that he had lost control of the ATV, I ran toward him, intending to strike his hand from the throttle in order to slow the ATV and prevent a collision with another vehicle.  However, as I neared the ATV, Fred made a sharp right turn and struck me with the ATV.

A: It is true that section 2411 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law imposes liability upon the owner of an ATV (you) for the negligence of a person (Fred) legally operating the car with the permission, express or implied, of the owner (you).  The ATV owner becomes liable for an accident caused by the negligence of a permissive operator even if the owner himself or herself was free from negligence.

However, this does not mean that Fred’s negligence is imputed to you such that you are barred from recovering even for your own damages.  The jury can easily find that you had no capacity to stop Fred from hitting you.  We are not talking about a horse and buggy where you might easily regain control of the horse by reaching over and taking the reins from Fred.

Even if your conduct in letting Fred drive or in jumping in front of the ATV is found to be negligent, this need not bar your recovery.  It will only reduce the amount of your recoverable damages in proportion to your comparative fault.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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