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What is negligent entrustment?

On Behalf of | Dec 11, 2019 | motor vehicle accidents

Some in Georgia may argue that car accidents are inevitable given the number of drivers on the road. Indeed, accidents tend to be just that, yet that does not ease the financial burden on you in the immediate aftermath one.

On top of the expenses that you must face, you may also have to deal with the frustration that comes when you learn that the driver who hit you not only had a history of reckless driving, but was also in someone else’s vehicle at the time of the collision. This can prompt the question of why would anyone entrust their car to somebody already proven to be a risk to others on the road?

Negligent entrustment explained

According to the legal principle of negligent entrustment, the owner of the vehicle involved in your accident should also be liable. The idea behind this principle is that cars are like any other potentially dangerous chattel, in that in the wrong hands they can cause harm. Thus, car owners need to use caution in loaning them out to others. If and when one using another’s vehicle causes an accident with it, the owner should then be jointly responsible.

Proving negligent entrustment

The fact that the vehicle involved in your accident did not belong to the driver who caused it is not enough to prove negligent entrustment in Georgia, however. State court rulings have established the standard in applying this principle to car accident cases.

Third-party liability depends on two factors, according to state law. It is only valid when the vehicle’s owner has “actual knowledge that the driver is incompetent or habitually reckless,” and that the accident was due to “the negligent conduct of the driver.” Thus, the owner must have known (or should have known) that the driver using his or her vehicle was reckless or irresponsible behind the wheel in order for negligent entrustment to apply.