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What is negligent entrustment?

When you have been involved in a car accident in The Woodlands, you typically understand that what happened was just that: an accident. Thus, your first impulse may not be to try and assign blame. Yet the expenses that result from your accident may place you in a position of needing to consider a liability claim. What is more, your frustration over the entire incident might build when you discover that not only did that driver that hit you have a poor driving history, but that even with that knowledge, someone gave them access to their vehicle. 

Such frustration may reasonably prompt you to question whether or not the owner of the vehicle should share in the liability for the accident. The legal doctrine of negligent entrustment allows for just that. It recognizes that vehicle owners should exercise caution in deciding who they should loan their vehicles to, and places responsibility on those who allow poor or inexperienced drivers to use them. 

Yet the mere fact that a person loaned their car to another who then caused an accident with it does not necessarily mean that negligent entrustment applies to your case. Rather, certain elements must be present in order to do so. These elements have been established through state court rulings. In a recent state appellate court decision, it was reaffirmed that the following must be true to apply negligent entrustment to a case: 

  • An owner entrusted their vehicle,
  • To an unlicensed, incompetent or reckless driver,
  • When the owner knew (or should have known) of the driver's poor driving habits or history, 
  • And the driver's recklessness or inexperience led to your accident

Notice how it must be shown that the owner willingly entrusted to their vehicle to another in order for negligent entrustment to be applicable. 

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