Strict Vicarious Liability Under Florida Tort Law for All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Accidents (Are ATVs Dangerous Instrumentalities?)

ATV1.jpgFlorida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine “imposes strict vicarious liability upon the owner of a motor vehicle who voluntarily entrusts that motor vehicle to an individual whose negligent operation causes damage to another.” Aurbach v. Gallina, 753 So. 2d 60, 62 (Fla. 2000). “Operation of a vehicle falls within the strict liability doctrine because a vehicle is dangerous to others when used for its ‘designed purpose.'” Harding v. Allen-Laux, Inc., 559 So. 2d 107, 108 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990) (quoting Southern Cotton Oil Co. v. Anderson, 80 Fla. 441, 86 So. 629, 638 (Fla. 1920)).

In Salsbury v. Kapka, 41 So. 3d 1103 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010), the issue presented on appeal was “whether an all-terrain vehicle (“ATV”) is a ‘”dangerous instrumentality”‘ under Florida’s tort law.

Due to a lack of evidence, the appellate court (4th DCA) withheld judgment on the issue. Instead, it