It is not unusual to let a friend or relative drive your vehicle. Often times, it is just to run a quick errand. What people don’t realize is that when you loan your car to someone else, no matter who they are, you are opening yourself up to potential liability in the event of an accident.
We’ve written about the concept of vicarious liability before. Vicarious liability applies when there exists some legal relationship between the driver and another that makes them partially responsible for the driver’s actions. In the case of someone loaning their car to another, the legal relationship is found in the mere fact that owner has title to the vehicle, and that the owner has entrusted the driver with the car, which under Florida law, is considered to be a “dangerous instrumentality.”
How is Negligent Entrustment Different than Vicarious Liability?
Negligent entrustment is different than vicarious liability. Although in most cases an owner of a vehicle can be held liable for the actions of the driver without further proof aside from mere ownership of the vehicle, proving a claim negligent entrustment requires more. In addition, Florida law also sets forth certain limits for vicarious liability claims. By statute (Fl. Stat. 324.01), Florida caps the amount of money you can recover from a vicariously liable owner. The cap is $100,000 per person and up to $300,000 per accident for injuries, and $50,000 for property damage. However, if the driver is uninsured or has any insurance with limits less that $500,000 combined property damage and bodily injury liability, the owner is liable for up to an additional $500,000 in economic damages. There is no such limit to recovery on a claim for negligent entrustment.
For example, let’s assume you loan your friend your car to quickly run to the store. While driving to the store, your friend causes an accident. In this scenario, your friend can be held liable due to his/her negligence in causing the accident; however, as the titled owner of the car, you can also be held “vicariously” liable for your friend’s negligence, subject to the financial limits discussed above.
Now let’s assume your friend is at your house for a party and has been drinking. You then loan your friend your car to quickly run to store, during which your friend causes an accident. Under this scenario, you would be vicariously liable for your friend’s negligence as owner of the car (subject to the financial caps above); however, you could also be subjected to unlimited liability based on a claim of negligent entrustment if it can be shown that you knew, or should have known that your friend was impaired when you loaned him/her your car.
Consult a Qualified Ruskin Car Accident Attorney
When you’ve been injured in a Florida car accident, it is important that you consult with a qualified Florida personal injury attorney. The attorneys at SouthShore Injury Attorneys have extensive litigation experience and handle only personal injury claims. If you’ve suffered injuries in a Florida car accident, contact SouthShore Injury Attorneys at (813) 419-3866 for a free consultation.
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