In some instances, if a person is involved in a car accident in a borrowed car, the owner of the vehicle can be held liable for harm sustained in the collision. Generally, an owner’s fault will hinge on whether they consented to the driver’s use of the vehicle and knew or should have known that the borrower would not drive in a safe manner. Thus, if a plaintiff cannot prove the owner knew of the driver’s use of the vehicle, the claims against the owner may be dismissed prior to trial. If the plaintiff was not given a full opportunity to develop the evidence against the owner, though, dismissal might be premature, as shown in a recent Florida opinion. If you lost a loved one due to a crash with a borrowed car, it is advisable to meet with a skillful Florida car accident attorney to discuss your claims.
The History of the Case
It is alleged that the defendant driver, who was seventeen-years-old and did not have a license, took his mother’s sports car. He was driving on a Florida highway along with the plaintiff’s daughter and another male teenager. While driving at an excessive rate of speed, he lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree. Tragically, the plaintiff’s daughter died as a result of the injuries she sustained in the accident.
It is reported that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant driver and his mother, alleging that the mother permitted the defendant driver to operate her vehicle despite the fact that he did not have a license. The defendant mother filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff could not prove her liability. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.
Summary Judgment in Car Accident Cases
Under Florida law, summary judgment is an important tool in allowing the courts to obtain a fair, quick, and cost-efficient determination of every case pursuant to the Rules of Civil Procedure. It accomplishes this goal by determining whether the evidence of record is sufficient to demonstrate a factual dispute that requires a trial or hearing on the matter. In other words, it is akin to a pre-trial motion for a directed verdict.
A motion for summary judgment should only be considered or granted after the parties have had a full chance to acquire the evidence they would offer if the matter were to proceed to trial. In other words, if discovery is not complete, the facts are not adequately developed so as to allow the court to assess whether there are genuine factual disputes. In the subject case, the appellate court noted that the plaintiff had yet to depose the male passenger due to his lack of availability and that he could potentially have pertinent information regarding the plaintiff’s claims. Thus, it reversed the trial court ruling.
Speak to a Seasoned Florida Attorney
Unlicensed drivers can cause catastrophic collisions, and multiple parties may be held accountable for the harm suffered as a result. If you lost a loved one in a fatal accident, you could be owed substantial damages, and it is prudent to speak to a lawyer. Florida attorney Jarrett Blakeley has the skills and experience needed to handle complicated car accident lawsuits, and if he represents you, he will fight tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Blakeley through the form online or at (800) 602-5000 to set up a conference.