What is negligent entrustment?

Even with all of the efforts made to make Walker's roads safer, car accidents continue to be a constant problem. If and when you are involved in one, you might be understanding that such incidents may not be able to be avoided. Your opinion may quickly change, however, if you find out that the person that hit you had a history of reckless driving. Not only might your frustration focus on such a driver, but it also might extend to whomever allowed the driver access to a car. 

The legal principle of negligent entrustment allows you to hold a third party responsible if said party allowed a reckless or incompetent driver access to a vehicle, and then that driver subsequently causes an accident. The basis of this principle is that vehicle owners should know the driving tendencies of those they loan their vehicles to. 

Negligent entrustment does not apply to every car accident case involving a person who is driving the car of another. Alabama's Supreme Court has set the standard for when it may be cited as basis for assigning third party liability. In a 2005 ruling, the Court reaffirmed that the following standards must be met: 

  • A vehicle owner entrusted it to a third party 
  • The third party is a reckless or incompetent driver
  • The vehicle owner knew the driver to be incompetent
  • The driver's incompetence indeed caused your accident
  • You were injured in the accident

An important element to remember here is entrustment. The vehicle owner must have knowingly loaned it out. Cases where a driver took another's vehicle without permission may not meet this standard. 

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