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The Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine

  • By:David Vitola

Basic Definition

What is negligent entrustment? It is where a person who knows or has reason to know a driver is likely to use their vehicle in a manner that involves an unreasonable risk of physical harm themselves and others is potentially liable for the acts of the driver. If you negligently entrust your vehicle to another, you will be held liable for the negligent acts of the driver in operating the vehicle. While this seems like a simple rule, it can have many particular parts that make it complicated so we will explore some of those issues here.

The “Dangerous Instrumentality” Doctrine in Florida

The “dangerous instrumentality” doctrine can be found in Fla. Stat. section 324.021. This doctrine, using the concepts of negligent entrustment, “seeks to provide greater financial responsibility to pay for the carnage on Florida road. It is premised upon the theory that one who originates the danger by entrusting the automobile to another is in the best position to make certain that there will be adequate resources to pay the damages caused by its negligent operation.” Kraemer v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 572 So. 2d 1363, 1365 (Fla. 1990). This doctrine reaches not only cars but also golf carts, trucks, buses, airplanes, tow-motors, and other motorized vehicles. Any vehicle that could be categorized as a dangerous instrumentality is subject to this doctrine. Rippy v. Shepard, 80 So. 3d 305, 306 (Fla. 2012)

The “dangerous instrumentality” doctrine imposes “vicarious liability upon the owner of a motor vehicle who voluntarily entrusts that motor vehicle to an individual whose negligent operation causes damage to another.” Aurbach v. Gallina, 753 So. 2d 60, 62 (Fla. 2000). While it is very similar to the concept of negligent entrustment, the specific language is different and the two must be kept secret. This doctrine is used specifically in relation to vehicles of all types whereas negligent entrustment can relate to other dangerous items, such as guns and jet skis.

Example:

If Person A lends Person B their car and then Person B negligently causes an accident that injures Person C, Person C will be able to sue both Person A and Person B for damages. Person C will be able to sue Person B because they negligently caused the accident. Person C will be able to sue Person A because Person A is vicarious liable for the accident as a result of the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. Vicarious liability is a topic that we will reserve for a future blog.

If you or your loved one has been injured in a car accident, call John today at 352-796-1390.

Posted in: Personal Injury Law

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