Parental Liability for Children Injured in Car Accidents

In the recent ruling of Stanford v. Chignon, Florida’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals addressed the question of parental liability for an adult child’s motor vehicle accident.

In Stanford, an adult child borrowed her stepfather’s pickup truck and subsequently made a left-hand turn in front of another vehicle, causing injury to the vehicle’s driver. The injured party sued both the child and the stepfather, alleging that the stepfather was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. Under this doctrine, the owner of an item or object that is “peculiarly dangerous in its operation” is liable for any injuries that result when another person uses the instrumentality with the owner’s consent.

In this case, there was conflicting evidence as to whether the stepfather had given the adult child permission to use his truck. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the stepfather, finding that he was not liable since he had not given the stepdaughter permission to use the truck on the day of the accident. However, the Second Circuit disagreed. Ultimately, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded the case, finding that there was insufficient evidence to support a grant of summary judgment based on the conflicting evidence.

As your West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer knows, this ruling opens up the possibility that a parent could be held liable for allowing an adult child to use his or her vehicle if that child negligently causes an accident resulting in injury. While the parent-child relationship alone is not enough to automatically trigger liability, an express grant of permission by the parent to the child to use his vehicle may be sufficient to make the parent liable.

If you or a loved one has suffered injury in a motor vehicle accident, or due to any type of negligence, your Delray Beach personal injury lawyer can help. Contact a Delray Beach personal injury attorney at the Shiner Law Group today and schedule an initial consultation about your case.

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