Negligent Entrustment in Florida Jet Ski Accident Case

In the case of Gozleveli v. Kohnke, Florida residents Tamer and Farideh Gozleveli purchased two new jet skis for their family to use –  including their adult son, Aydin. In February of 2012, Aydin, his friend Ryan de la Nuez, and Karen Kohnke met up to ride the jet skis. For most of the excursion, Ryan operated one jet ski, while Kohnke rode as a passenger. Aydin operated the other jet ski. Sometime later, Ryan allowed Kohnke to take over and drive the jet ski he was originally operating. Aydin did not initially realize that Kohnke was driving. However, when he did notice, he did not take any actions to demand that Ryan drive instead of Kohnke. Aydin eventually asked Kohnke to follow him home.

On their way back, Kohnke allegedly lost control of the jet ski and crashed into a nearby dock. The accident led to the woman suffering a number of serious injuries. In fact, Kohnke had to spend two months in a medical facility to recover. Subsequently, she filed a negligent entrustment claim against Aydin in the Southern District of Florida.

Negligent entrustment refers to leaving an object, such as a jet ski, with a person whom the lender knows or should know could use the object in a way that could result in harm due to factors such as age or inexperience. In the context of an watercraft, a party injured by an incompetent driver must typically establish the following elements:  i) the owner of the watercraft entrusted it to the driver; ii) the driver was inexperienced, unlicensed, or reckless; iii) the owner knew or should have known that the driver was inexperienced, unlicensed, or reckless; iv) the driver was negligent in the operation of the watercraft; and v) the driver’s negligence resulted in harm or injury to the victim.

After a non-jury trial, the federal court determined that general maritime law was applicable to the case. The court further noted that Aydin negligently entrusted Kohnke with the jet ski because he had reason to believe that she would likely suffer harm because of her inexperience in operating such a watercraft. Kohnke was also deemed to be comparatively negligence due to the fact that her own decision to operate the jet ski contributed to her injuries. Thus, Kohnke was accountable for 40 percent of the fault, while Aydin was responsible for the other 60 percent of the fault. Under this apportionment, Kohnke was awarded in excess of $800,000 in damages.

If you or someone close to you was injured due to the negligence of another, we can help. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our skilled Miami boat accident attorneys can investigate the facts of your case and determine the viability of your claim. With years of experience, we are well-versed in this area of law. Our team of skilled and dedicated advocates will work zealously to get you the compensation you deserve for your harm. We proudly represent clients throughout South Florida. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878).

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