Detailing negligent entrustment

| Jul 27, 2020 | Firm News |

It goes without saying that car accidents in Cleveland can be costly. One may feel some sense of relief, however, from the assumption that whoever caused their collision (either on their own or through their auto insurance provider) will help to cover their expenses. Yet that potential may come in to question, however, if and when one discovers that the person that hit them was not in their own vehicle at the time. 

Two problems may emerge in this scenario: an auto insurance provider may refuse coverage for a driver not covered by their policy, or whatever insurances pays turns out not to be enough to cover one’s costs and the driver that caused their car accidents does not have the financial resources needed to assist them. The obvious question that then arises is whether one can hold the owner of the vehicle responsible. 

Vicarious liability for car accidents

The legal principle of negligent entrustment allows for just that. According to Merriam-Webster, this occurs when one loans a vehicle to a driver that is either too incompetent or inexperienced to use it safely. Negligent entrustment claims seek to assign additional accountability to car owners to force them to pay more attention to who they permit to use their vehicles. 

Negligent entrustment in Tennessee

Tennessee state court rulings have set the standard for citing negligent entrustment in a car accident case. The criteria for this standard include: 

  • Showing that a vehicle owner entrusted their car to another driver 
  • Showing that the driver was incompetent to use the vehicle 
  • Showing that the vehicle owner knew (or should have known) of the driver’s incompetence 
  • Showing that incompetence was the proximate cause of an accident 

This standard would exclude any cases where a person took another’s vehicle without their permission. 

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