Negligent Entrustment and Third-Party Liability
When you’re involved in a car accident, you likely assume that one of two parties is at fault: you (or the driver of the car you were in) or the other driver. However, that isn’t always the case. In some car accidents, there is an outside party that shares some or all of the liability. This can make it hard to prove liability and seek the compensation you deserve.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a vehicle crash, we are here to help. Call Pack Law Group at 540-586-7225 to schedule a consultation now.
Defining Negligent Entrustment and Third-Party Liability
Negligent entrustment is a type of case that points the finger at a person who was not physically involved in the accident. It claims that a party was negligent by entrusting their vehicle to the care of someone whom they knew to be unsafe or untrustworthy.
Third-party liability refers to the idea that a person outside the parties physically involved in a crash can still be responsible for the crash. There are many potential third parties in a car accident claim, including passengers, vehicle manufacturers, repair shops, component manufacturers, and road maintenance agencies.
When Negligent Entrustment Applies
Negligent entrustment only applies to a narrow subset of car accident cases. While many people learn about negligent entrustment and assume it’s an easy way to seek compensation if the driver of the car was not the owner of the car, very few negligent entrustment cases actually fulfill all of the required elements. These elements include:
- The driver who caused the accident had the owner’s permission, either explicit or implied, to drive their vehicle
- The owner knew or could reasonably have been expected to know that the driver would put others at risk of harm
- The driver caused the victim’s injuries through their actions
This action may be considered when a parent allows their teen driver to use their vehicle, when a car owner permits an unlicensed driver to use the car, or when a car owner
The Challenges of Negligent Entrustment Cases
There is a lot of nuance in negligent entrustment cases. The reason for the car crash must be related to the reason that the driver was considered unsafe. For example, an owner might know a driver to be unsafe because the driver’s vision is too poor to drive, the driver has a long history of speeding and reckless driving tickets, the driver habitually drives while impaired, or the driver has been involved in an unusually high number of accidents in recent years.
If the reason for the crash is not related to the reason the driver is unsafe, the negligent entrustment claim may be dismissed. Consider, for example, an unlicensed driver. A friend allows them to borrow the car, knowing that they do not have a license because they failed to pay their registration and their licenses was suspended pending payment. The unlicensed driver texted while driving and rear ended a car.
Yes, they were unlicensed and the owner knew that; however, the fact that they were unlicensed had nothing to do with the fact that they were driving while distracted. In this example, there is no clear cut case of negligent entrustment.
Another challenging point for those pursuing negligent entrustment cases is proving that a vehicle owner knew that the driver was unsafe or negligent. This often requires an admission from either of the possibly liable parties, and people have been known to lie when under fire. A skilled personal injury lawyer may be able to prove that the vehicle owner should reasonably have known that the driver was unsafe or likely to put others in harm’s way.
If negligent entrustment is successfully proven, liability is often split. The at-fault driver still maintains some liability for the crash. Depending on the insurance coverage available and the the availability of assets, a victim may be able to recover damages from one or both parties.
Let Us Help With Your Personal Injury Case
A car accident can upend your daily life, leaving you with significant medical bills, pain, and a loss of income. We can help you get the compensation you deserve. Schedule your consultation now by contacting Pack Law Group online or giving us a call at 540-586-7225.