What is negligent entrustment?

| Feb 14, 2021 | Personal Injury |

It is no doubt frustrating to go through the ordeal of a car accident in Arizona. Yet your frustrations with the driver that caused your accident are likely tempered by the assumption that a simple error or momentary lapse in judgment on their part caused the collision. Yet what if you later discover that the driver had a history of reckless or negligent driving? 

In such a case, your frustration may extend not only to the driver, but also to the person that may have entrusted them with a vehicle (if the driver’s access to a car had been previously limited). You might even rightly question whether the party that allowed the driver access to their vehicle might also share in the liability for your accident. 

Third-party liability for car accidents

The legal principle of negligent entrustment allows you to do just that. This philosophy assigns liability to vehicle owners when they loan out their cars to drivers who then cause accidents. The purpose of this added level of accountability is to prompt vehicle owners to exercise caution in determining who to allow to use their cars. 

Negligent entrustment elements in Arizona

Unfortunately, the mere fact that the driver that caused your accident was not using their own vehicle at the time does not necessarily mean that negligent entrustment applies to your case. Instead, you must show that your accident meets the state standard (as previously established in Arizona state court rulings). This includes: 

  • Showing that the vehicle owner entrusted it to the driver 
  • Showing that the driver’s history indicated previous recklessness and/or incompetence 
  • Showing that the vehicle owner knew (or should have known) of this history 
  • Showing that the driver’s recklessness and/or incompetence caused your collision 

This standard would exclude cases where one took a vehicle without the owner’s permission.