Articles Posted in Vicarious Liability

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cruise ship1Every year, a number of Florida residents go on cruises. Fortunately, most cruise ship passengers come back home safely and have had a positive experience. In some cases, however, passengers are injured. If you or a loved one has been injured while on a cruise, you should seek the help of a qualified Miami personal injury attorney who can evaluate the facts of your case. Injured passengers may be able to seek compensation for their injuries if the injury was caused by the cruise line or one of its agents.

In Franza v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, LTD, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit held that a cruise line could be vicariously liable for the alleged negligence of an on-board medical professional based on agency theory.

The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean for maritime negligence after her father fell and suffered a blow to the head while on board a Royal Caribbean ship. The plaintiff’s father was seen by the onboard nurse and doctor. The ship’s nurse failed to accurately diagnose his head trauma, had him wait for several hours, and then let him go, stating no treatment was needed. The plaintiff’s family called 911 shortly after they realized that the plaintiff’s father’s condition was getting worse. According to the complaint, the cruise ship staff took 20 minutes to transport him to the infirmary and postponed treatment until they received the injured man’s credit card information. Hours later, the ship’s doctor transferred him to a Bermuda hospital, but by then his condition was not treatable. The plaintiff’s father died approximately one week after the injury. Continue reading →

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car6Every year, thousands of people are injured on Florida roads, and tragically some are even killed. Unfortunately many of these accidents could have been prevented if the driver exercised reasonable care behind the wheel. While liability is clear when a negligent driver gets into an accident, what happens when a car owner lets another person drive his or her car and that person causes an accident? In this situation, Florida law allows the injured party to take legal action against both the driver and the car owner under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, which is rooted in negligence.

The dangerous instrumentality doctrine is a common law rule that holds the owner of a fundamentally dangerous tool responsible for any injuries caused by the use of that tool. The doctrine applies to motor vehicles in that car owners may be responsible for any damages suffered by third parties as a result of negligent driving of the car, when the car is driven with the owner’s knowledge and permission.

In Roman v. Bogle, the lawsuit arose from a tragic car accident in which the driver and his passenger were killed when the car ran a red light and was hit by a truck. The passenger’s mother (Roman) filed suit against the driver’s estate as well as the driver’s father (Bogle), claiming that the father, as the owner of the car, was liable under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. It is important to note that Bogle was not in the car at the time of the accident. Continue reading →

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car5In Christensen v. Bowen, the Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that an individual whose name is on the title of a vehicle may be vicariously liable for damages even if he or she did not use or operate the vehicle. Vicarious liability, also known as respondeat superior, is the legal principle that imposes liability on an individual or a company for the negligent acts of an employee. Put another way, it is holding an individual or company liable for the actions of a third party that the individual or company had the right, ability or duty to control.  For example, a truck driver’s employer may be vicariously liable if the driver negligently causes an accident.

Here, Mr. Christensen bought Mrs. Christensen a car while on the verge of divorce. The vehicle was titled in both of their names. As part of the divorce, Mrs. Christensen kept the car, but Mr. Christensen’s name remained on the title. A few years later, Mrs. Christensen negligently caused a serious car accident that killed the driver of the other car. The victim’s family brought a wrongful death suit against both Mr. Christensen and her.

At trial, there was no dispute that Mr. Christensen did not maintain any control over the car at the time of the accident. He did not have a key to the car, he did not drive the car, and he had no access to the car, since he and his wife had begun living separately after the divorce. However, his name was still on the title, thus making him a co-owner of the vehicle. Continue reading →

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carThe use of rental cars is very common in Florida due to the high volume of visitors who travel to the state for business and pleasure every year. The high rate of rental car use also means that rental car accidents are quite common. Unfortunately, Florida laws pertaining to collisions in rented and leased vehicles favor insurance companies and car rental companies as opposed to the car accident victims. If you’ve been injured in a rental car accident then South Florida personal injury attorney Robert Dixon can help.

In Adams v. Bell Partners, the plaintiffs were injured in an automobile accident involving a rental car. The rental car was paid for by the driver’s employer, Bell Partners. Bell Partners had rented the car for their employee to use for business purposes. At the time of the collision, the vehicle was being driven by the employee’s husband. Bell Partners had an express policy that prohibited the use of rental vehicles by anyone other than an employee. Despite this policy, it was known by the employee’s boss that the employee often let her husband drive the rented cars, and he was also listed on the rental policy as a permitted driver.

The plaintiffs sued Bell Partners alleging the employer was liable for the accident since the car was rented in the company’s name. Specifically, the plaintiffs cited the dangerous instrumentality doctrine claiming the employer was vicariously liable for authorizing and paying for the employee to rent and use the vehicle. Bell Partners’s insurance company denied liability citing that company policy forbade the employee’s husband from operating the rented car and they did not have to cover the plaintiff’s damages because the employee’s husband was not an authorized user. Continue reading →