On October 19, 2015 Glenn Guenard of Guenard & Bozarth, LLP obtained a verdict in favor of his client for the amount of 2.9 million dollars in Sacramento County against a 17 year old drunk driver. The verdict was also against the driver's mother for her negligent entrustment of her car to her son.
The law in California is that you can be liable for damages if: (1) The driver of your vehicle was negligent in operating your vehicle (2) The driver had your permission to operate your vehicle; (3) You knew or should have known the driver was incompetent or unfit to drive your vehicle; (4) The driver's incompetence or unfitness to drive your vehicle caused harm. In this particular case, the driver had just graduated high school. He was an honors, student, played sports and had a job. He was already accepted to college. His mother had bought a car for him about 10 months earlier. He could use it when he wanted, but she was the registered owner and the insurance was paid by her.
The jury found that the mom knew or should have known that her son was incompetent or unfit to drive her vehicle based on the following: He had an incident about 8 months before the accident. He picked up 2 friends in his mom's car. One of the friends brought 3 coronas he had taken from his parents. They stopped in a parking lot of a grocery store. The driver drank a Corona and then put it on the curb when he was done. While they were all in the car which was not running a cop approached them because of a report of suspicious activity. The other 2 Coronas were not opened. But the cop learned the driver had drank the beer. The cop also found an unopened bottle of Tequila under the front seat which the driver said was not his, but he was holding for someone. The driver was issued a citation for a minor in possession of alcohol and his mom picked him up.
Then, 5 months later (3 months before this accident) the driver was found in a park by the cops in his mom's car again. This time he had one buddy in the car which was stopped and not running when the cop approached. The cop found some marijuana in the glove box. The driver was again issued a citation, this time for a minor possession of marijuana and his mom picked him up. The mom punished her son after each incident by taking away the car for 6 weeks and various lesser things. She said she reduced his curfew from midnight to 11pm. But, neither the mom nor the driver really understood the DMV rules for minor drivers who are under 18 and have had their license for less than a year which says (1) The minor shall not have any passengers under the age of 20 (Here, the minor driver had at least one passenger in his car at the time of this accident as well as the 2 prior incidents) and (2) the minor shall only drive between the hours of 5 a.m. and 11p.m.
The moral of the story is that if you are going to let your teenager drive your car (although the above law applies to anyone who drives your car) you should consider the following: (1) Make sure you and your teenager understand all the rules in the DMV Driver handbook for a provisional driver; (2) Have a zero tolerance policy for any type of drugs or alcohol while in your car; (3) If your policy is broken, the punishment has to be immediate and severe. Another option is to simply put the vehicle in the driver's name and have the driver pay for the insurance. If you do not comply with the above, you could be found liable for damages which your insurance may not fully cover.
I would like to thank Dan Ambrose and his staff at Trojan Horse Method for their part in helping me obtain a verdict of 2.9 million dollars in Sacramento County, California for my client on 10-19-15. My client sustained comminuted fractures to his patella and calcaneous caused by a drunk driver. He was off work for a couple of years. The jury awarded 2.45 million in pain and suffering.
This is the largest verdict I have obtained in 28 years of representing plaintiffs. The story telling skills I learned at Trojan Horse Method in San Francisco in April 2015 helped tremendously in connecting with the jury in all phases of the trial, especially during voir dire, opening and closing.
I have been to many seminars and workshops about trying cases. But, Trojan Horse Method was by far the best because it involves hands-on teaching and training. You must want to improve your trial skills and you must want to be interactive and be willing to be critiqued about your skills. You also critique the other participants and instructors during the "fight club" which can be fun and entertaining while also being serious and a great learning method. I will definitely be attending another THM workshop in the near future. I highly recommend it to anyone who is serious about trying cases and significantly improving their trial skills. It sure worked for me and my client!
We help with serious issues that require serious representation. We are the Law Offices of Guenard & Bozarth. We have over 70 years of experience on our legal team and we also have a former insurance company defense attorney in our plaintiff's only law firm. Call GB Legal 24/7/365 at 888-809-1075 or visit www.gblegal.com We Can Help!