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Negligent entrustment explained

| Feb 8, 2021

It may go without saying that after experiencing a car accident in California, you feel a great deal of frustration. Still, despite your feelings, you are likely ready to give the person who caused your accident the benefit of the doubt that the incident was not representative of their driving abilities.

Yet if you later discover that the driver had a history of poor driving performance and/or implied indifference for others’ safety, you may justly want to hold them responsible for their actions. You may also wonder whether those who provided the driver access to a vehicle might also share in the liability. Many in your same position come to us here at Randolph and Associates with the same question.

Third-party liability for car accidents

Just as they were, you will likely find comfort in knowing that it indeed is possible thanks to a legal principle known as “negligent entrustment.” This principle reinforces the notion that vehicle owners should exercise care in deciding who they loan their cars to by holding them responsible for any accident they do entrust with them cause.

Negligent entrustment elements in California

However, the mere fact that the driver that caused your collision was not driving their vehicle at the time may not mean that negligent entrustment necessarily applies to the incident. Rather, according to California’s Civil Jury Instructions, your case must meet the following criteria:

  • The driver displayed negligence in operating the vehicle
  • The driver operated the vehicle with the owner’s permission
  • The owner knew (or should have known) the driver was incompetent or unfit to operate the vehicle
  • Knowing this, the owner still permitted the driver to have the vehicle
  • The driver’s incompetence was a substantial factor in your accident

You can find more information on assigning liability for car accidents throughout our site.