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What is negligent entrustment?

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2020 | Car Accidents |

The common assumption is that after experiencing a car accident in Virginia Beach, you can rely on the driver that caused your accident to help compensate you for your accident expenses (either out of their own pocket or through insurance coverage). Yet what if that person was not driving their own vehicle at the time?

In such a situation, insurance companies may deny coverage, and if the person was not in their own car, that may indicate that they lack certain financial resources. If this proves true, is there a way for you to hold the vehicle owner responsible?

Citing negligent entrustment in your car accident case

You can indeed, thanks to a legal principle known as “negligent entrustment.” This doctrine essentially allows you to assign vicarious liability to a vehicle owner for the actions of those who use their car, truck or SUV. The expectation is that such owners understand that their vehicles may serve as a potentially dangerous chattel, and that as such, they exercise caution in determining who they will allow to use them. The failure to do so would then result in their sharing liability for a car accident.

Proving negligent entrustment

Yet the need to prove that failure highlights the potential limitations that exist that may eliminate negligent entrustment from applying to your case. Virginia Supreme Court rulings state that a vehicle owner must know (or have cause to have known) that the driver using their vehicle was incompetent. This may exclude scenarios where an owner was not familiar with a driver’s poor driving history. In addition, you must also show that the driver’s negligence was the proximate cause of your accident (and not some other factor).