Lending your car to another person who ends up causing an accident could cost you. When a driver negligently causes an accident while driving a car that does not belong to him, the car owner can also be held financially liable for the damages and injuries caused by the negligent driver. There needs to be consent from the car owner, either express or implied, for the driver to use the car in order for the car owner to be held responsible.
When it comes to individuals lending vehicles to other individuals, the liability sometimes stems from the car owner loaning the car to a driver the owner knew or should have known was a negligent driver. This is referred to as negligent entrustment. In order to prove that a car owner negligently entrusted his car to another person, the injured person seeking compensation has to show that the car owner was aware or should have been aware that the driver was a bad driver. If it can be shown that the car owner knew that the driver engages in behavior such as drunk driving, driving while texting or other distracted driving, it may be enough to prove negligent entrustment.
Car owners can also be held liable for loaning their cars to others under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine. This doctrine sounds similar to the negligent entrustment discussed above, but these are two separate forms of actions that can be brought against the car owner. Under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, the plaintiff does not have to show that the car owner knew or should have known the driver was a negligent driver. This is referred to as strict liability.
Florida law limits the amount of money that a plaintiff can recover when suing a car owner under strict liability for loaning his car is $100,000.
Employers are also held vicariously liable for the negligent driving of their employees. If an employee was acting in the course of his employment when he negligently caused an accident, a person injured in the accident can sue both the driver and the employer to seek compensation. Whether or not an employer is held liable for an employee’s negligent driving generally depends on whether the employee was engaged in an errand for his employer, and there are legal tests to make this determination.
If the employee was driving negligently because of pressure from the employer, the injured person may be entitled to additional compensation. For example, if a truck driver is forced to drive too many hours consecutively by his employer without rest, and the driver causes an accident because he is too tired, the employer may be ordered to pay punitive damages.
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Once a person suffers serious injuries in an accident, he may have a hard time keeping up with the medical bills while also missing work. Seeking compensation from all liable parties can assist the injured person in recouping these costs, and being able to meet the future costs of treatment. An experienced car accident injury lawyer can help you determine which parties can be held liable in your car accident, and help you seek the compensation you deserve. Contact an experienced car accident lawyer at Vocelle & Berg, LLP, in Vero Beach, Florida for a free consultation.