Negligent Entrustment and Third-Party Liability
When a car accident occurs, you have to determine liability before you can seek compensation. The concept of negligent entrustment complicates this quite a bit, demonstrating the need for experienced legal representation.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a car accident, choose an attorney you can trust to uncover the truth and fight for you. Call Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short at 334-821-3892 to discuss your options.
Who’s Usually Liable for Accidents?
In most car accidents, liability can be traced back to one of the drivers involved in the crash. Human error is the leading cause of car crashes, although there are accidents tied to malfunctioning equipment, poorly maintained roads, and unclear signage. When investigators and attorneys try to determine fault and liability, they often begin by looking at the drivers.
Negligent Entrustment Brings Another Party Into Your Case
Negligent entrustment brings another person into the question—someone who was likely not even present at the time of the crash. Alabama law maintains that the owner of a vehicle may be liable for damages caused by that vehicle’s driver.
This may allow for the division of liability between parties. Additionally, it gives victims a way to get the compensation they deserve if the driver is uninsured and is unable to pay damages.
Proving Negligent Entrustment
Proving negligent entrustment and getting a settlement from the vehicle’s owner can be incredibly difficult. You must be able to prove four separate elements to claim negligent entrustment and receive compensation from the vehicle owner:
- The vehicle owner allowed the other person to use their car
- The driver of the vehicle was incompetent
- The vehicle owner knew the driver was incompetent
- The driver’s incompetence caused the victim’s injuries
The first is fairly easy to prove, assuming that the vehicle owner admits to allowing the driver to use their vehicle or evidence indicating that the driver had ongoing permission to utilize the vehicle. The second can be tricky, since there is no clear definition as to what makes a driver dangerous or incompetent. However, a victim may be able to prove this element by pointing to a history of driving while impaired, traffic violations, or having a suspended/revoked license.
The third is where many negligent entrustment cases fall apart. You must be able to prove that the owner of the car knew that the driver was dangerous. Proving knowledge is a massive challenge, since it’s very easy for vehicle owners to claim that they didn’t think the driver was dangerous.
Negligent Entrustment in Other Situations
While negligent entrustment is often used in car accident claims, it is also a viable option in cases involving weapons. If the owner of a firearm allows a dangerous person to use it, knowing that the person is likely to inflict harm on someone, they could be liable for injuries caused by the firearm.
In this case, the owner does not have to give express permission to use the item to pay damages under negligent entrustment. Consider, for example, a firearm owner with young children in the house. If the owner does not take reasonable steps to prevent the firearms from being accessed by the children, they could be liable for damage caused by the children if they find the firearm and use it.
Why You Need an Attorney
Negligent entrustment is, as stated above, very difficult to prove. A victim without legal experience is unlikely to meet the burden of proof needed to seek damages under negligent entrustment. A personal injury attorney can determine whether or not negligent entrustment is an option, as well as help you figure out other ways you can seek compensation.
You need an advocate whose sole priority is to represent you and get the compensation you deserve. That’s where we step in. Regardless of who is liable—the driver, the vehicle owner, or both—everything we do is in your best interests.
Let Us Help With Your Car Accident Claim
Were you hurt in a car crash? If so, you may be able to seek compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and other losses. We’re here to guide you through this process and fight hard for the money you deserve. For more personalized advice, call Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short at 334-821-3892 or contact us online.
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