Car accidents happen all the time in Florida and throughout the United States. In most cases, the owner of the car is the person driving it. But what happens when you loan your car to someone, and they get into an accident? Under Florida law, a vehicle owner may still be liable even though they were not actually behind the wheel at the time of the crash.
Earlier this month, television reality star Blac Chyna’s white BMW hit another car carrying three passengers in Los Angeles. Witnesses say that the driver of the car left the scene immediately after the accident. Blac Chyna, however, wasn’t behind the wheel at the time of the accident. The star had loaned her vehicle to a friend, who was ultimately involved in the hit-and-run.
The plaintiff then named Blac Chyna in a personal injury lawsuit, claiming that as the owner of the vehicle, she should be liable for the damages under the theory of negligent entrustment.
Although Blac Chyna’s case is happening in California, it is important to note that in Florida, a vehicle owner also may be liable for harm resulting from the negligent operation of their vehicle by others under two theories: negligent entrustment and vicarious liability.
Negligent entrustment refers to leaving an object, such as a car, 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. Florida courts have held that an individual who negligently entrusts a car to someone is liable for damages flowing from the misuse of that car. Put another way, the vehicle owner is independently negligent for entrusting a car to someone else. This is because a car is a dangerous instrumentality that involves such a high degree of risk of injury or death that the highest level of care is required on the part of the owner.
Under the doctrine of vicarious liability, a vehicle owner may be liable for damages caused by the negligent operation of his or her vehicle by a driver who was given permission to operate the vehicle. Thus, the owner is not liable if the car was stolen. The key point here is that the vehicle owner may be liable without being at fault. While this ‘no fault’ caveat can be beneficial to plaintiffs trying to establish liability, there are limits to this doctrine. Specifically, Florida law caps the amount of money a plaintiff can recover from a vicariously liable vehicle owner. The cap is $100,000 per person and up to $300,000 per incident for bodily injury, as well as $50,000 for property damage. The reality is that in cases in which there has been a catastrophic injury, the actual damages can easily exceed the statutory caps.
If your loved one or you have been hurt due to someone else’s negligence, it is very important to speak to a skilled Miami car accident attorney as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, we have the experience and dedication to handle your claim. For more information, call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online today.
More Blog Posts:
Car Crash Settlements Involving Minors in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, September 7, 2016
Kayaking Accidents in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, September 7, 2016
Injuries to Children at Summer Camps in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, September 7, 2016