Negligent entrustment is a legal theory that allows the injured to hold car owners responsible for damages caused by someone who was borrowing the owner’s car at the time of the accident. To explain why this is important, first let’s discuss negligence in general.
Put simply, negligence is a way of holding people responsible when they hurt someone else through their own carelessness. In a car accident case, a court finds that all drivers have a duty to other people on the road to exercise reasonable care in order to minimize the risk of an accident. When they breach this duty of care, causing injury to another person, the negligent driver can be held liable for the injured person’s damages. Damages can include purely economic things like medical bills, lost wages, as well as noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.
Sometimes in a car accident case, the negligent driver is the only party that can be held liable, but sometimes another party also bears some legal responsibility. For example, in some cases employers may be held liable for damages caused by the negligence of their employees. Parents are generally held liable for damages caused by the negligence of their teenager in an accident involving the family car.
Negligent entrustment refers to the carelessness involved when a car owner loans a vehicle to someone the owner knows to be an unsafe driver. The borrower may be visibly drunk or disoriented, or otherwise someone that a reasonably careful driver would not trust with a car.
In many cases, it can be important to expand the pool of potentially liable defendants. Sometimes, even when a plaintiff can prove the driver caused the accident through negligence, the driver has no insurance and insufficient resources to pay for the injured party’s damages. An experienced attorney can help the injured and their families understand their options for recovering compensation.