The risk of suffering a car accident in Tacoma is ever-present. However, most people do not allow this to deter them from driving on the area’s roads and highways due to the assumption that other drivers are as responsible with their vehicles as they are.
Yet responsibility for the operation of a vehicle does not apply only when one drives it; it also encompasses cases where an owner loans it to another. When one does not take that responsibility seriously, they may open themselves up to liability claims.
Defining “negligent entrustment”
The legal principle of negligent entrustment assigns liability to any person who entrusts another with a potentially dangerous instrument or chattel when evidence exists that the entrusted person may be incapable of using it safely. This adds an additional layer of accountability to vehicle owners to be more cognizant not just of who they allow to use their vehicles, but also their duty to help ensure the safety of other motorists.
Indeed, legal officials assume the law implies the theory of negligent entrustment. Local state court rulings confirm as much in statements such as the following: “We consider it not only common sense, but common law and justice, that one cannot let or loan to another, knowing that other to be reckless and incompetent, and in such a condition that he would be reckless and incompetent, an instrumentality which may be a very dangerous one in charge of such a person.”
Exceptions to negligent entrustment
This statement highlights one of the major exceptions to liability under negligent entrustment: knowledge. A vehicle owner must know (or least evidence must show that they should have known) that the person they entrusted their vehicle with had a poor driving history. A driver also needs the permission of the vehicle owner to use the car for negligent entrustment to apply.