How Negligent Entrustment May Impact Your Car Accident Claim

If one person allows another person to drive his or her car, the person who loaned the car may be held liable for injuries and property damages under negligent entrustment laws.

Negligent Entrustment Laws

Negligent entrustment refers to one party entrusting a motor vehicle to another party without making sure the driver has a valid driver’s license or allowing a person to drive a vehicle without the knowledge of his/her driving history. Under tort law, negligent entrustment arises when the person loaning the car (the entrustor) is found liable for injuries to a third party if the person driving the car (the entrusted) has a car accident that results in injuries.

In most negligent entrustment cases, car accidents involve employees who are driving company vehicles without the employer verifying license status or past driving history. Some cases may involve an entrustor providing an entrusted with a dangerous instrument such a weapon. In either type of case, the entrustor can be held liable for any injury or death caused to a third party. Whether third party injuries result from a car accident or a lethal weapon, the entrustor can be found liable for damages that result in civil lawsuits. If an injured party dies, the entrustor may be found guilty of negligent homicide.

Company Vehicle Safety

When an employee is given the use of a company car, it’s the employer’s duty to verify that employee’s license status and driving history to ensure safety. Legally, a driver can be deemed unfit to drive due to an expired, suspended, or revoked driver’s license, lack of driving experience, and reckless driving history. To prove a negligent entrustment claim against a company, the injured party must prove:

  • The company controlled or owned the motor vehicle
  • The employee was authorized by the company to drive the vehicle
  • The driver was incompetent, unlicensed, or reckless
  • The driver caused the car accident, injuries, and property damages
  • The company should have known that the driver was unfit to drive the vehicle

Before handing over the keys to a company car, an employer should check the employee’s driving history through a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR). An MVR is a public record that shows a driver’s current license status, past traffic violations and convictions, and history of traffic accidents. By checking an employee’s MVR annually, an employer can prevent negligent entrustment claims and costly civil lawsuits filed with accident lawyers against the company.