Published on:

Vicarious Liability of Vehicle Owner May Be Asserted in Florida Car Accident Lawsuit

Headlines recently centered on a pregnant reality television personality who is being sued in connection with a car accident – despite the fact that she was nowhere near the scene when it happened. caroncurve

Blac Chyna has been named in a personal injury lawsuit that seeks damages for medical expenses, lost wage and pain and suffering. The makeup artist and fiancee of Rob Kardashian reportedly allowed a friend to drive her BMW last November. That friend was later accused of felony hit-and-run when she allegedly ran a stop sign and struck plaintiff’s sport utility vehicle, causing injury to herself and a passenger.

Now, plaintiff alleges the owner of the vehicle should be liable for negligent entrustment, which is that defendant knew or should have known the person to whom she loaned her vehicle was a poor driver but allowed her to drive the car anyway. 

Although this case is in California, those of us here in Florida can benefit from the understanding that it’s not just drivers who can be held responsible for a crash. Under the theory of negligent entrustment – and another called vicarious liability – owners of vehicles may also be held accountable to  car accident victims. While most states recognize some type of negligent entrustment, vicarious liability as it relates to vehicle owners is less common. Florida is one of the more plaintiff-friendly in this regard.

Florida law holds that car owners are strictly vicariously liable for the actions of anyone operating that vehicle based on the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. This is the doctrine that holds motor vehicles to be inherently dangerous tools, thus the owner of these inherently dangerous tools is liable for any injuries caused by that tool’s operation.

Although both legal theories allow for recovery of damage from a vehicle owner, there is one major difference between negligent entrustment and vicarious liability. While negligent entrustment requires some proof of negligence or the absence of reasonable care, one does not need to prove negligence on the part of the person who is vicariously liable, so long as the underlying actions of the other person were negligent and cause the injury.

So for example, let’s say a grandmother entrusts her vehicle to her grandson, whom she knows has a history of poor driving (i.e., a DUI, several stop sign violations and speeding tickets). That grandson causes a wreck in her vehicle. Any persons injured in that accident could accuse the grandmother of negligent entrustment.

Now, lets’ say a woman entrusts her vehicle to her daughter, who is a responsible driver with a clean record. If that daughter is at-fault for an accident in her mother’s car, the mother might not be found liable for negligent entrustment because she did not negligently entrust the vehicle. However, in Florida, she might be vicariously liable for the crash based solely on the fact that she owned the car.

Vicarious liability of vehicle owners is an important recovery tool for Fort Myers car accident victims, particularly considering 1 in 4 drivers is uninsured. It gives injured persons one more avenue through which to obtain compensation.

Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.

Additional Resources:

Blac Chyna Sued Because Her Friend Injured Two People In A Car Accident… While Driving The Celeb’s BMW!, Aug. 23, 2016, PerezHilton.com

More Blog Entries:

State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Jakubowicz – Underinsured Motorist Claim Validated, July 30, 2016, Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer Blog