Car Accident Attorneys in Dayton shudder at the mere mention of the legal phrase “negligent entrustment” because it seems to act as a magical phrase that conjures up an extremely irate, neurotic, belligerent and demanding client who in all seriousness is infuriated that they are being held legally accountable for an event that they had little control over. How tempting it must be for these lawyers to simply turn around and utter that equally magical phrase:
“I don’t care but that is the rules.”
So what exactly is this “negligent entrustment”, and how does it affect drivers?
Whilst trying to keep the explanation as brief and non-technical as possible, negligent entrustment can be summed as the legal doctrine that a party (known in this context as the entrustor) is held legally liable for the negligence of a 3rd party(known in this context as the entrustee) on the basis that the entrustor gave the entrustee an item that caused another party harm, and where the giving of that item was an act of negligence in of itself.
Sorry, tried to keep it as simplistic as possible, but sometimes it is essential to rely on the jargon terminology to nail a particular issue.
Say John owns a car and his friend, David, asks to borrow it. John knows that David has an extensive police record for various traffic violations, DUI charges, speeding tickets etc, and he is also well aware that David has a major alcohol problem and has no compunction about driving after having (more than) a few drinks.
Tragically, David visits his favourite bar, knocks back a whiskey or ten, then proceeds to get involved in a major head on collision with another vehicle which resulted in a passenger in the other car, having her leg and collar bone broken.
Now it is essential to appreciate that in the above scenario, it was David and not John (i.e. the actual legal owner of the vehicle) who was in control of the vehicle at the time of the accident occurring and the negligent driving causing an injury.
Rightly or wrongly, the law regards John as being culpable alongside David (although perhaps, not to the same extent) because John knew of the potential danger that David posed to the general public and despite being aware of this, chose to do nothing.
Things get worse.
In a controversial ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States, it was decided that in the event that a vehicle which has been entrusted in the context of negligent entrustment and where that vehicle is then used in the commission of a crime (irrespective of what crime actually is) then the vehicle can be legitimately seized by the officers of the state.
Therefore, if you now find yourself facing off against a lawsuit on the grounds of negligent entrustment it is critical that you consult with an experienced attorney in order to minimise the amount of liability that you will ultimately be responsible for. With the operation of this principle, the stakes at risk are pretty high.