Florida law recognizes negligent entrustment as a legal cause of action that an injured person or property owner may use to seek compensation from a negligent entruster. This means if a person entrusts their vehicle to another person who then causes damage or injury to a third party, the entruster may be held liable for any damages caused.
What is Negligent Entrustment?
Negligent entrustment occurs when a person entrusts their vehicle to someone who they know, or should know, is likely to cause harm due to their careless or reckless behavior. Negligent entrustment is based on the legal principle that an entruster has a duty of care to entrust their property only to those who are competent and safe to use it.
For example, suppose a friend loans their car to another friend who has a history of reckless driving. In that case, the friend who loaned the vehicle may be held liable for any injury or damage that the reckless driver causes while operating the car.
Negligent Entrustment vs. Vicarious Liability
It is important to note that negligent entrustment is not the same as vicarious liability. Vicarious liability holds an employer or principal (or perhaps a parent) liable for the acts of their employees or agents (or children). In contrast, negligent entrustment holds a third-party liable for their own negligence in entrusting their property to someone who is unsafe to use it.
For example, suppose an employer entrusts a company vehicle to an employee, and the employee causes a car accident while working. In that case, the employer may be held vicariously liable for the employee's negligence. However, if a person lends their car to a friend who then causes an accident, the car owner may be held liable for negligent entrustment.
Elements of a Negligent Entrustment Claim
To establish a negligent entrustment claim under Florida law, the plaintiff must prove the following elements:
- The defendant owned or had control over the property at issue.
- The defendant knowingly entrusted the property to a person who was incompetent or unfit to use it.
- The person to whom the property was entrusted caused injury or damage to a third party.
- The defendant's negligent entrustment was a proximate cause of the injury or damage.
Filing a Negligent Entrustment Claim
Filing a lawsuit for negligent entrustment in the context of car accidents can be a complicated process. To be successful, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had knowledge of potential recklessness and that this knowledge directly caused the accident in question.
In such cases, evidence of prior instances of negligence or reckless behavior are important, as well as witness statements which can help establish that the entruster was aware of potential recklessness when providing access to another person's car. In addition, it is also important to consider other facts surrounding the accident such as speed limit regulations and road safety laws.
When filing a lawsuit for negligent entrustment, it is essential to seek out an experienced lawyer who specializes in this particular area of law. A qualified attorney can provide valuable advice throughout each stage of proceedings, from building an effective case to presenting arguments in court and ultimately seeking damages commensurate with any injuries suffered. With their assistance, those affected by negligent entrustment may be able to achieve justice and receive rightful restitution following an automobile collision.
Experienced Car Accident Attorneys in Fort Lauderdale, FL
At Schlesinger Law Offices, P.A., our attorneys have extensive experience handling negligent entrustment cases in Fort Lauderdale, FL. We understand the complexities of car accident law and can provide counsel throughout each step of the process.
To discuss your case with a knowledgeable attorney, contact us today at (954) 467-8800 for a free consultation.