Negligent entrustment explained

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2021 | motor vehicle accidents

Filing a liability claim typically is not the first thing on the minds of people in Georgia after experiencing a car accident. Indeed, many might prefer to avoid legal action altogether, wanting to instead show understanding towards the parties that caused their car accident.

Yet in those cases where blatant negligence or incompetence contributed to an accident, one may have little choice but to seek action. Should they subsequently learn that the driver that hit them was not in their own vehicle at the time, they may also look to extend liability to the person that entrusted the driver with a vehicle.

Vicarious liability for car accidents

The legal principle of negligent entrustment allows for just that. Per the International Risk Management Institute, this describes the entrustment of a potentially dangerous chattel (such as a motor vehicle) without the owner exercising due care in researching who they loan their vehicle to. The logic behind this principle is that a failure to exercise that care constitutes negligence.

Georgia’s standard for negligent entrustment

The mere fact that a driver was not in their own vehicle when they caused an accident may not meet the standard of negligent entrustment, however. Indeed, each state determines how this principle applies to cases in their jurisdiction.

A recent Georgia Court of Appeals case cites the standard established in the state for connecting negligent entrustment to car accidents. It is that it is not sufficient to show that a vehicle owner only had constructive knowledge (i.e., should have known) of a driver’s incompetence or inexperience. Instead, one must prove the owner actually knew of a driver’s history of reckless or incompetent driving (and still loaned them their vehicle anyway) for negligent entrustment to apply to a case.