Proving Negligent Entrustment in Florida DUI Cases

In the tragic event of a Florida DUI accident, people other than the driver may be held responsible for the crash in some circumstances. If another person or establishment allowed the operator to drive drunk, they may be found liable for the driver’s actions in a Florida personal injury claim.

A Florida negligent entrustment claim is based on negligently entrusting another person with a dangerous object, such as entrusting a person with a vehicle when the person is drunk. Under Florida law, to prove a negligent entrustment claim, a plaintiff must show that a person supplied directly or through a third person a chattel for the use of another person that the supplier knew or had reason to know would use it a way that involved an unreasonable risk of physical harm to himself and others. Florida courts have held that cars are dangerous instrumentalities and, not surprisingly, also that drunk driving is dangerous. However, Florida courts also generally hold that to prove a negligent entrustment claim in a drunk driving case, an owner will not generally be held liable if a person has a legal duty to return property to its owner. Some Florida courts have found that liability does not depend on ownership, but rather whether the harm was or should have been foreseeable.

Court Affirms $45 Million Award in DUI Negligent Entrustment Claim

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion affirming a jury award of $45 million in a DUI negligent entrustment case. In that case, a woman was driving drunk and lost control of her car, causing her to crash into a taco truck where another woman was buying food. That woman and another person were killed. The deceased was 38 years old and the single mother of four children who were 22, 14, 12, and 10 years old at the time.

The mother’s four children sued the drunk driver. They also sued the driver’s friend who had been with the driver that night. The two friends had been at a party together where the friend had seen the driver taking shots. The two friends left together, and the driver drove the friend to her car. The driver then refused to give up her keys and drove away, before crashing her car. The driver’s friend admitted to the police the next day that she felt that her friend should not have been driving.

The jury found in favor of the children and awarded them $11,250,000 each in noneconomic damages, amounting to $45 million in total. The defendants appealed, but the appeals court affirmed the jury’s verdict. The appeals court found the award should stand because it did not shock the conscience. Even if it was higher than the awards in similar cases, cases cannot easily be compared. In this case, the mother was a single mother who was part of a tight-knit family and was very close to each child. The damages were meant to compensate the four young children, whose academic and social lives deteriorated because of the loss of their mother. Therefore, it did not shock the conscience and was upheld.

Contact a Miami Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in a Florida drunk driving accident, contact the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank. Our Miami car accident lawyers are dedicated to serving accident victims. The law firm has represented accident victims in and around Miami since 1976. Our clients can call us at any time of day or night to talk to an attorney about their case. If you want to discuss your claim with an attorney, call us at 877-448-8585 or use our online form to schedule an appointment.

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