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Plaintiff Attempts to Use Negligent Entrustment Theory to Hold Employer Liable in Drunk Driving Accident Caused by Employee

Earlier this year, an appellate court in Georgia issued an opinion in a car accident case that required the court to discuss and apply the negligent entrustment doctrine. Ultimately, the court determined that the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence of the employer’s knowledge of the at-fault employee’s checkered driving history to survive summary judgment.

Handing Over KeysThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver. The drunk driver was operating a truck that he had borrowed from his employer. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against not just the drunk driver but also the employer. The plaintiff claimed that the employer was negligent in allowing the employee to use the truck.

The plaintiff presented evidence that during the driver’s employment interview, he disclosed the fact that he had several prior convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Evidently, the employer pulled a criminal background check for the employee, which came back clean, but that check only looked back three years. The employer never pulled a driving history for the employee.

The court explained that when the employee disclosed his “checkered history” to the employer, the employer should have been put on notice that the employee may be a dangerous driver. Thus, there was sufficient evidence to allow the plaintiff’s case of negligent entrustment against the employer to proceed toward trial.

Florida’s Negligent Entrustment Doctrine

Most people allow their friends to borrow their car on occasion. What happens when that friend gets into an accident causing serious injuries? Under Florida law, it depends on whether the owner of the car had reason to believe that the driver posed a threat to others on the road.

If a car’s owner is negligent in the entrustment of their vehicle to another person, the owner of the vehicle may be held liable for any damages that result from the driver’s use of that car. In this situation, there is not a cap on the amount of damages that are available for the injured party.

Even if there was no indication that the person borrowing the vehicle posed a threat, the owner of a vehicle may still be liable for damages caused by that driver’s use of the vehicle. However, under Florida law, the damages in this situation would be capped at $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Florida car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. It is important that you consult with a dedicated personal injury attorney as soon as possible, since there may be multiple potentially liable parties. The skilled injury attorneys at the South Florida law firm of Cohn & Smith have decades of experience helping injured Floridians seek the compensation they deserve after being involved in serious accidents. Call 954-431-8100 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated South Florida personal injury attorney.

Related Blog Posts:

Court Determines Gas Station May Be Liable for Delivery Driver’s Injury on Premises, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, February 9, 2017.

Police Officers May Be Entitled to Government Immunity Even When Their Actions Cause an Accident, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, January 23, 2017.

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