Under Florida’s dangerous-instrumentality doctrine, a vehicle owner who entrusts his or her vehicle to another person who negligently causes an accident can be held liable for any injuries. Essentially, this doctrine holds the owners of dangerous instrumentalities – including motor vehicles – liable when they loan the vehicle to another person who causes an accident. Importantly, there does not need to be any showing that the vehicle owner was negligent in loaning the vehicle to the at-fault driver.
Florida law limits an owner’s liability under the dangerous-instrumentality doctrine to $100,000. A recent case in front of a Florida appellate court illustrates how a non-negligent owner can be held liable for injuries, up to the statutory maximum, under the dangerous-instrumentality doctrine.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiffs were the parents of a woman who was killed when she was rear-ended by a truck that was driven by one defendant and owned by another defendant. Both of the defendants were present in the truck at the time of the accident. The owner of the truck had previously been driving but asked his passenger to take over control of the truck while he took a nap in the back.