Can You Be Held Liable for Another Person’s Driving?
It can already be difficult to determine liability in a car accident, but it can be even more complicated if the driver responsible for the accident doesn’t own the vehicle he or she drove at the time.
The concept of “negligent entrustment” may mean that the owner of the vehicle is responsible for an accident and any resulting harm or damages, which is why it’s important to understand the risks involved when lending your vehicle to another person.
What Is Negligent Entrustment in Missouri?
In cases of negligent entrustment, the owner of a vehicle may be liable for any injuries or other damages resulting from a car accident involving another driver. In Missouri law, negligent entrustment is also known as the theory of “vicarious liability.” The theory states that if you have permitted another person to operate your vehicle and that person is responsible for a car accident, you may be deemed liable for providing the victims with compensation for the damages sustained.
In the event of an accident involving a vehicle that doesn’t belong to the at-fault driver, injury victims will be required to prove five things according to the theory negligent entrustment:
- The driver of the vehicle (entrustee) was inexperienced, incompetent, reckless, or otherwise unfit.
- The owner of the vehicle (entrustor) was aware of the driver’s condition and likely inability to safely operate the vehicle.
- The entrustor gave explicit permission for the entrustee to operate the vehicle.
- The entrustee’s ability to borrow the vehicle put others at risk of harm.
- The victim’s injuries and other damages resulted from the negligence of both the entrustor and entrustee.
If an injury victim can prove each item, he or she may be able to file a claim against the owner of the vehicle for negligent entrustment. However, it can be difficult to prove liability in any case, which is why it’s best to consult with a personal injury attorney.
When Is a Driver Incompetent, Reckless, or Unfit?
It isn’t always entirely clear when a driver borrowing a vehicle is considered incompetent, unfit, or reckless. However, there are certain situations when the state of the driver may indicate that the owner of the vehicle committed negligent entrustment. Some of these situations could include lending a vehicle to:
- An intoxicated driver
- An elderly driver who is unfit to drive
- Someone with a known prior history of drunk driving
- An inexperienced driver
- A driver who is ill
- An underaged or unlicensed driver
- Someone with a known history of reckless driving
Contact Rogers Sevastianos & Bante, LLP
If you believe that you can prove negligent entrustment following a car wreck, Rogers Sevastianos & Bante, LLP may be able to help you build a case and give you the representation you need.
We can connect you with an experienced and knowledgeable car accident attorney in St. Louis to discuss your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an accident attorney. We can also answer any other questions you may have about personal injury law and negligent entrustment.