BEFORE HANDING OVER YOUR KEYS, READ ON:
Holidays are here, kids coming home from college, family and friends coming to sunny South Florida or your employee needs to run an errand. All of them ask to borrow your car. Being the nice person you are, you hand over the keys.
Not so fast.
Before you go out and loan your vehicle to a friend, family member, child, or employee, make sure you understand what Vicarious Liability is, how it works, and whether you are protected in case the borrower wrecks your car- or someone else’s.
“Vicarious liability,” is the legal term that means that a vehicle owner may be held liable for a car accident even if the owner was not the one driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.
Examples of Vicarious Liability
There are several examples in which the law could assign fault to a non-driver of a car, truck or motorcycle accident.
When a child drives their parent’s vehicle:
Parents may be sued for the reckless driving of their child if they allow their child to borrow their car and then get into an accident. This is due to ‘Negligent Entrustment’, which makes the parent (the entrustor) responsible because they trusted their child (the entrustee) with their car (or truck or motorcycle). If the parent was ‘fully aware that their child was inexperienced, incompetent, and reckless behind the wheel’.
‘Family Purpose’ holds that “the owner of the vehicle is held liable for any damages caused by the vehicle despite which family member was driving at the time“.
And Florida Statute holds that the person who signs a minor’s driver’s license application may be held legally responsible for their child’s negligent driving, including car accidents.
When you give the keys to your car to someone who you know is unfit:
Negligent Entrustment can also be applied when a car owner knowingly allows an unfit person to drive their car who then gets into an accident. However, in order for someone to file a personal injury suit against the owner of the vehicle, they must be able to prove that the entrustor was aware or should have been aware of the entrustee’s incompetence behind the wheel.
- That family member who wants to borrow your car? Are you sure they have a clean driving record, had their license suspended, or had a DUI? The price of not asking might prove expensive.
When an employer lets an employee drive a company vehicle:
By law, employers are responsible for the acts committed by their employees on company time and when the employee is performing work for the employer. If an employee causes or is in an accident while driving the company or employer’s vehicle, the employer could be sued for damages.
The key to all this is to think twice before lending your car. But if you or your car get into an accident, or want to know what your liabilities are, call us for your FREE consultation. With all the law firms in South Florida, why Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, PA? Perhaps our clients say it best:
Rest assured, you are in the BEST hands by working with Mr. Agnetti and his wonderful team and you will not regret it by any means. As far as I’m concerned, this law firm is the best in Miami, if not the entire state of Florida”. Elizabethjayne Culp