The legal doctrine of negligent entrustment authorizes the imposition of liability on the owner of a dangerous instrument, such as a motor vehicle, for negligence by a motorist the owner knows or should know poses an unreasonable risk of harm. The basic rationale for this legal theory is that a vehicle owner should exercise ordinary care when placing a dangerous instrumentality like a motor vehicle in the hands of another. While actual knowledge that the person using the vehicle has a pattern of drunk driving convictions, citations for reckless driving, or a history of at-fault accidents can justify liability, vehicle owners cannot bury their head in the sand to avoid liability. The legal relationship between the parties as well as known facts might give rise to a duty to inquire further. In this blog, our Miami personal injury attorneys highlight a recent case where a Florida appellate court allowed a claim of to go forward based on the negligent driving of an employee under the legal doctrine of negligent entrustment.
An employer gave an employee permission to use a company car for the weekend to move a mattress as part of a move. Permission was given to use the company car during off-work time and for the sole convenience of the employee. The employee proceeded to down several alcoholic drinks before operating the vehicle and subsequently collided with the plaintiff. The injury victim filed a personal injury lawsuit against the employee based on negligence and against the employer based on negligent entrustment. The trial judge granted the employer’s request for summary judgment based on the grounds the company did not know of the employee’s pattern of unsafe driving. Continue reading →