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Gerald, Esq
Gerald, Esq, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  30 years of experience
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My question is in regards ***** ***** accident liability.

Customer Question

My question is in regards ***** ***** accident liability. Please let me know if you require any further information from me to answer the question.
Before you answer, please understand that a satisfactory answer must be:
1. Specific to the state of Massachusetts only.
2. Provide references/sources to cases, laws, or doctrine. It would be great, but not necessary, if I could access these sources to learn more (i.e. a website link would be very useful).
My questions are:
1. Does the "family purpose doctrine", also known as the family car doctrine, apply in the state of MA?
- If so, what are the criteria that an accident must possess for this doctrine to apply?
- Does it only apply when a minor is driving the vehicle, or to legal adults as well?
2. Can you provide an overview of negligent entrustment in Massachusetts, and the situations in which applies?
Thank you very much.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Gerald, Esq replied 1 year ago.
Hello:Thank you for using Just Answer. I am an attorney with over 30 years of experience. I hope to assist you with your question. Because of some of the cmplexities in your question, please be patient while I double check some matters for you. I will respond fully to you shortly. Thank you.Kind regards,Gerald
Expert:  Gerald, Esq replied 1 year ago.
Hello: Thank you for your patience. The issue is a bit complicated under Massachusetts law. Normally a person is liable for their own actions and not those of others. There are exceptions to this concept. Most exceptions pertain to Employer/Employee situations. But some of the exceptions apply to family situations. In regard to automobile accidents the law can find the owner of the car liable even when they are not actually driving. For example, when you allow someone else to drive your car, you can be liable for their driving. There are two theories for this:. Family purpose doctrine – Under the family purpose doctrine the law assumes form of Agency between parents and children. The idea is that the child was allowed to use the vehicle to advance some purpose of the family. This can be pragmatic, as in running an errand, or even recreational. The doctrine assumes that the family’s general-use car is being used to advance an over all family purpose. Therefore if it is involved in an accident, the owner is liable.Massachusetts did not adopt the assumption of Agency contained in the Family Purpose Doctrine, but rather required the Plaintiff to prove that the child was in fact acting as an agent for the parent.See: WEINER V. MAIRS, 234 Mass. 156 (Mass. 1919) Negligent Entrustment – this applies if you know or should know that the person you allowed to use your car is unable to drive safely for any reason. In this situation the owner can be found liable. In order to establish a claim for negligent entrustment, the plaintiff must establish that (1) the defendant entrusted a vehicle to an incompetent or unfit person whose incompetence or unfitness was the cause of the plaintiff's injuries; (2) the persons who owned and controlled the vehicle gave specific or general permission to the operator to drive the automobile; and (3) the defendant had actual knowledge of the incompetence or unfitness of the operator to drive the vehicle. The lead Massachusetts case on this is Picard v. Thomas, No. 01-P-1716 (Mass. App. 1/28/2004), 60 Mass. App. Ct. 362, 802 N.E.2d 581 (Mass. App., 2004) There is one other issue to be aware of as well. Mass. General Laws chapter 231, section 85 G makes parents liable for the willful acts of their minor children if those acts caused harm or death to another person or to another's property. The limit of this responsibility is $5000.00. See: I hope the information I provide is useful to you. I want you to be comfortable and satisfied with my attempt to assist you. Please, if you have ANY follow up questions, feel free to ask. Please note that I am generally unavailable Friday evening through Sunday. Please do not forget to give me a positive rating. It adds nothing to your costs but it helps me greatly. Thank you.If you are dissatisfied with my response PLEASE let me know before giving me a negative review so that I may try to be of better assistance. Or if you prefer, let me know and I can “Opt Out” and your question can be re-posted without additional cost to you. I will be fair to you and only ask the same from you.Good luck.Please note: Information is educational and not given as legal advice. Only your local attorney can give legal advice. I can't establish or accept an attorney-client relationship with you. All posts are available for public viewing. Kind regards,Gerald