Negligent Entrustment of a Motor Vehicle Attorneys


Crashed police vehicle.

These are cases that involve the owners consigning certain types of property. Negligent entrustment occurs when a party entrusts their property like a car, for example, to a person known by the loaner to be a danger to himself or others when using that property. Examples would include entrusting your car to a known drunkard. Negligent entrustment attorneys are the legal professionals that handle these particular types of lawsuits.

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It could be a gun that you entrust to a mentally ill person. Or it could be a school child where an administrator trusts a child molester with kids. And sometimes it involves a private or commercial vehicle entrusted to a known reckless person.

In that case, an owner assigns the individual with the use of the vehicle for a temporary period. During this time, the actual owner of the motor vehicle has no use of it.

But then a third party gets injured by the loaned vehicle. In that case, the driver is usually responsible and not the owner.

  • But exceptions can apply.

First of all, we have to understand that California is a "permissive use state." So anytime someone takes your car, with permission or not, the law assumes they had authority. So your liability insurance should cover that vehicle and its operator up to the insurance policy limits.

Of course, as with any rule, it can be abrogated. Examples include cases like when the auto gets stolen. In a situation like that, the thief does not become covered.

Employer/Employee Liability Distinguished.

Exceptions can also apply in cases of master and servant liability. In some cases, liability attaches to a vehicle owner as a real party in interest.

For example, in a delivery vehicle case, the delivery person is often an employee. Also, the vehicle is usually a company car as well. So, in that case, employer liability attaches due to the employee's erratic driving while in the course and scope of employment. And this remains true whether it's the employee's private car or a company-owned car.

The insurance covers up to policy amounts. But the company is also at risk beyond policy limits.

How Do You Contrast the Innocent "Loan" of a Car With "Negligent Entrustment" of a Car?

Contrast employer-employee rules with a private party loan of a vehicle case. In that case, in good faith, and with clean hands, a friend lends a friend a vehicle. Assuming the car owner was not involved in the wreck, his or her liability remains restricted to the amounts covered by the vehicle's liability insurance policy. Hence, the case against the loaning friend never gets filed or gets dismissed for lack of a viable defendant.

CAVEAT - "NEGLIGENT ENTRUSTMENT"!

What if the vehicle owner knew or should have known the driver had a suspended license? What if the owner got the driver drunk and handed the driver the keys with conviction?

In cases like that, the law says the party loaning the car has a problem. Because the owner knew of the danger, the vehicle owner negligently entrusted the vehicle after knowledge of risk, the prospective plaintiff has the legal right to name the loaner as a defendant, and seek dollars beyond the insurance policy amounts.

Often there are catastrophic injuries to clients when a nut is allowed to get behind the wheel. Sometimes if it is reckless enough, courts may even allow extraordinary (punitive) damages for the reckless transference of the motorized vehicle. So these types of lawsuits have extra teeth in them and often settle rapidly when your lawyer has gathered the right evidence.

Understanding Negligent Entrustment Lawyer Duties.

Negligent entrustment attorneys handle lawsuits involving the owner of certain types of property. For example, we sue the owner of a motor vehicle who consigns a dangerous individual with a car. But before the conveyance, the owner must know the person is a reckless driver. Proving the owner knew this is no walk in the park. It takes a great lawyer to uncover this evidence.

Negligent Entrustment Lawsuits EXPLAINED.

This type of lawsuit will be against a negligent party. So here, the plaintiff (injured party) must show proof. Plaintiff's burden is to prove the truth of the matter asserted. The definitions are under the general principals of negligence.

They must demonstrate a theory of negligent entrustment. So Plaintiff must show the owner knew the individual driver was careless or reckless.

What are the Two Theories of Negligent Entrustment?

There are two fundamental theories of entrustment. Either method can establish liability. But these may depend on what state the injured party resides.

These theories include:

  • Actual Knowledge: Using this theory, the plaintiff will need to show proof. So it had to be to an individual they knew unable to operate the motor vehicle safely. To prove this, it had to be a temporary loan. But the plaintiff must show the individual had a mental capacity issue. So it had to be something preventing them from operating a vehicle safely. But it could also be proof the driver was inexperienced or had a poor driving record.
  • Constructive Knowledge: This legal theory does not require the vehicle's owner to have prior knowledge of a particular previous lousy act by the defendant that made the loan negligent. Instead, this focuses on whether the defendant's bad behavior is a commonly known fact in the community. When and if this gets proven, the owner may still become liable due to his or her "constructive" notice.

How Do You Find a Great Negligent Entrustment Attorney?

Finding a top-notch attorney for your case is never easy. When you or a loved one has gotten into a motor vehicle accident, many things are at play. The first thing you must do is find out who has money to pay. But this type of case is complicated. The good news is that our personal injury advocates will be able to evaluate the circumstances of the accident. Next, they can determine if the actual owner is liable under these legal requirements. In other words, you just found a great negligent enturstment attorney. So pick up that phone and call a personal injury lawyer at Ehline Law Firm to learn more at (213) 596-9642.


Citations:

CNA Risk Control Bulletin https://www.cna.com/vcm_content/CNA/internet/Static%20File%20for%20Download/Risk%20Control/AutoFleet%20Safety/RC_Auto_Bul_Negligent%20Entrustment_CNA.pdf