Birmingham residents should not live in fear of experiencing a car accident. That said, such incidents are common, as the Alabama Department of Transportation reports that as recently as 2018, a car accident reports in the state came in every 197 seconds. Most, however, take comfort in the assumption that when such an incident occurs, the driver responsible (through their insurance provider) will help cover their expenses.
Yet what happens when one discovers that the driver that hit them was not in their own vehicle at the time? One’s might be justly concerned that insurance coverage in such a situation might come into question. What sort of legal recourse might one have in this scenario?
Understanding negligent entrustment
The legal principle of negligent entrustment allows one to hold the owner of a vehicle responsible when another person causes an accident with their car. The underlying philosophy of this principle is that vehicle owners should exercise caution when loaning out their vehicles, and adding accountability through this avenue helps to ensure that.
Meeting the standard for negligent entrustment
One might think that if it turns out that the driver that hit them was no using their own vehicle that negligent entrustment would automatically apply to their case. Yet that is not true. Rather, one’s case must meet the standard that has been set by the state’s courts. These include:
- The owner did entrust their vehicle to the driver
- The owner knew (or should have known) of the driver’s inexperience or incompetence
- The driver’s inexperience or incompetence was the proximate cause of a car accident
- That accident produced damages and/or injuries
One might notice that an entrustment is necessary for negligent entrustment to apply to a car accident case. This excludes cases where a driver uses a vehicle without permission.