Negligent Entrustment Of A Vehicle
According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), over four million people each year in the United States are injured seriously enough in car crashes to require medical attention. There are many different factors leading to these accidents, and in some cases, crashes may be a result of what is known as negligent entrustment. Put simply, negligent entrustment of a vehicle is the legal term for when an owner of a motor vehicle entrusts or loans his or her vehicle to another driver, despite knowing that the driver is incompetent and may not be able to drive the vehicle safely. In this situation, the owner of the vehicle may be found liable for damages that the driver caused. The vehicle owner may be an individual or a company. If you or a loved one was injured in a vehicle accident and believe negligent entrustment could be a factor, consider reaching out to the experienced personal injury lawyer Chuck Franklin of Chuck Franklin Law by calling (480) 545-0700 to schedule a consultation.
Establishing Incompetence in a Driver
A large percentage of serious vehicle accidents involves drivers who are driving without a valid license. According to the United States Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 19 percent of motor vehicle accidents that resulted in fatalities involved drivers who were driving without a valid license. If a vehicle owner knowingly loans his or her vehicle to a driver who does not have a valid license, he or she may be held liable for the negligent entrustment of a vehicle. Other examples of incompetence in a driver that the vehicle owner can be held liable for may include when:
- The driver is intoxicated or under the influence of controlled substances.
- The driver is underage.
- The driver has a medical condition that makes it dangerous to drive, such as vision problems or a history of seizures.
- The driver was recently convicted for drunk or reckless driving.
- The driver lacks the experience needed to safely operate the vehicle.
- The driver does not have the correct driver’s license required to operate the vehicle.
- The driver, due to a lack of experience or training, is not able to determine if cargo on the vehicle is loaded safely.
Holding the Owner of the Vehicle Liable
Following an accident, in order to hold an owner liable for the negligent entrustment of a vehicle, the injured party typically must establish the following:
- That the owner of the vehicle entrusted the vehicle to the driver.
- That the driver of the vehicle was incompetent, negligent, or reckless.
- That the owner of the vehicle should have known that the driver was incompetent, negligent, or reckless.
- That the driver was negligent while operating the vehicle and that the driver’s incompetence played a significant role in the collision.
- That the driver’s negligence caused property damage or bodily injury.
The defense in a negligent entrustment claim may argue that the owner was not aware that the driver was unfit to drive or that the accident was not the fault of the driver. The defense may also argue that the defendant’s entrustment of the vehicle was standard behavior for a reasonable person to do in most circumstances. Navigating the legal aspects of these cases can be challenging for people who have been injured in collisions that were the result of negligent entrustment, which is why they often seek experienced legal assistance. The skilled personal injury attorney Chuck Franklin at Chuck Franklin Law can provide the legal support necessary for these legally complex cases.
Employer Liability and Negligent Entrustment
In some cases, negligent entrustment involves an individual vehicle owner who entrusts an incompetent driver with his or her car. However, in other cases, companies or employers may be negligent in entrusting a vehicle to an employee. A business may provide an employee with a company vehicle to commute to job sites. If, for example, the employer knows that the employee has a medical condition and that his or her license was revoked due to that medical condition, the business may be held liable if the employee is involved in an accident that injures or kills other people. Another example of when the employer could be held liable for negligent entrustment is if the employer provided a vehicle to an employee simply without requesting a copy of the employee’s driver’s license. Companies must take certain proactive steps to avoid the negligent entrustment of vehicles to employees, including but not limited to the following:
- A formal driver selection procedure that reviews all employee motor vehicle records, including driving records with vehicles that are not company owned.
- Employee orientation.
- Regular training for drivers on safe driving practices and business policies and procedures.
- Records of all vehicle accidents or incidents, procedures for review, and training following any accidents or incidents.
- Policies that limit driver distractions, such as making and receiving phone calls, messaging, and eating while driving.
- Procedures for drug and alcohol testing.
- Commitment to ensuring that company policies and procedures follow all local, state, and federal laws.
- Disciplinary procedures for violations of company procedure, including possible revocation of driving privileges.
Without these precautions in place, a company may be held liable for negligent entrustment of a vehicle if an employee’s driving results in an accident that causes damage to another vehicle or property, injuries to other people, or death.
How a Lawyer Can Help in Cases of Negligent Entrustment
Questions about what constitutes the negligent entrustment of a vehicle, who can be held liable, and under what circumstances can be overwhelming, especially if you or a loved one has been involved in an accident that may have been the result of negligent entrustment. An experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to help you through the process, explaining how to determine the negligent party, what compensation you may be entitled to, and what to expect during the claims process. A skilled Arizona personal injury attorney can work with you to help determine what legal options are available as you seek compensation for injuries or damage. Consider contacting Chuck Franklin directly to schedule a free consultation by calling (480) 545-0700 today.
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