A lawsuit for negligent entrustment arises when the owner of a motor vehicle entrusts (i.e. giving something you own to another person for a temporary period of time) it to someone the owner knows to be incapable of using the vehicle properly and a third party is injured.

What Do You Have To Prove For a Negligent Entrustment Lawsuit?

Liability for negligent entrustment is determined by applying general principles of negligence. In order to prevail on a theory of negligent entrustment, the injured party must show that the vehicle's owner knew or should have known that the person to whom the vehicle was entrusted was reckless or incompetent.

What Are Some Examples Of Negligent Entrustment?

There are two approaches to establishing liability under a theory of negligent entrustment, which differ depending on the state in which you live:

  • Actual knowledge: The owner is liable when he entrusts his motor vehicle to a person whom he actually knows is incompetent or unable to operate the vehicle the same as a normal driver, and gets in an auto accident with a third person. An example of this would be giving a vehicle to one who is clearly not suited to be driving it because of the driver's youth, inexperience, mental capacity, or poor driving record.
  • Constructive knowledge: In situations where a driver's incompetence is not apparent to the owner at the time of entrustment, the owner will still be liable if he knew of facts or circumstances relating to the driver's inability to properly operate the vehicle, and an accident occurs with a third party. If the owner knew of specific instrances of recklessness on the part of the driver or the driver's incompetence was generally known in the community, then the owner may be liable for negligent entrustment.

Do I Need An Attorney To Help Me With A Negligent Entrustment Lawsuit?

If you are involved in an automobile accident and you believe that you have been injured by someone who is driving a vehicle owned by someone else, you may be able to sue the actual owner of the vehicle under a theory of negligent entrustment. Before pursuing such a lawsuit, however, you should retain an attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney can accurately inform you whether you have a case against the true owner of the vehicle. He can also aid you in discovering if the owner was negligent in entrusting the vehicle to the person responsible for your injuries.