The general rule in car accidents, is the driver who caused the accident is responsible and therefore, legally liable for the ensuing damage. However, in cases where the owner and the driver are two different people, the owner of the car may also be liable.
Under the theory of negligent entrustment, the owner of an automobile may be independently liable if they have negligently entrusted their vehicle to an incompetent driver. Negligent entrustment is based on the decisions and actions of the actual owner in giving their keys to another person.
Thus, the analysis focuses on the decisions and actions of the owner. The standard is what the driver knew about the person they were loaning the car to or what they should have known about that person. The following are common situations where the owner is likely to be found to have negligently entrusted their vehicle to an incompetent driver.
(1) An owner who loans their vehicle to an obviously intoxicated person, such as a drunk individual who is slurring their words and falling over.
(2) An owner who loans their vehicle to a person they have personally seen consume eight beers in the last hour.
(3) An owner who loans their vehicle to a person who is incapable of driving, such as a person with a visual disability which renders them blind.
(4) An owner who knows of a serious defect in their car, like non-working brakes, yet still loans their car out to another driver.
(5) An owner who loans their car to a person, whom they know does not have a driver’s license.
The commonality in these examples is the owner knew or should have known of a specific reason why the borrower was incapable of driving. Mere inexperience on the part of the borrower does not create a situation of negligent entrustment, it requires more of a showing that the owner knew or should have known that the person was truly incapable of driving.
If you or your loved one has been injured in a car accident, please contact the experienced San Diego personal injury attorneys at Martinez & Schill LLP to discuss liability of all parties, including owners who have negligently entrusted their vehicles. Our personal injury attorneys are experienced in determining causation in a particular car accident and may be able to offer insight into potentially culpable parties. We don’t get paid until we recover compensation on your behalf, so call today for a free consultation. San Diego 619-512-5995 or Riverside 951-200-4630.