Negligent Entrustment in Alabama

Negligent entrustment is probably a term you’ve never heard before. However, it may come in handy if you’re ever involved in a car accident caused by another person. Negligent entrustment is when someone is legally liable for negligence because they provided another person with a dangerous instrument. As a result, that person caused injury to a third party.

In the simplest terms, it means the owner of the dangerous instrument can be held personally responsible for the damage someone else may have caused.

Understanding Negligent Entrustment

Negligent entrustment can apply in various scenarios but is typically used in car accident cases. In Alabama, negligent entrustment could make the owner of a vehicle accountable for damages caused by that vehicle’s driver. It provides victims a means to receive compensation if the driver is uninsured or unable to pay for damages. It is also important to note that the owner of the vehicle does not have to be present when the accident occurs.

Common examples of negligent entrustment include: 

As a parent, you can avoid getting caught in a negligent entrustment case by ensuring your teenager is responsible before allowing them behind the wheeel.
  • Parent-Child negligent entrustment occurs when a parent gives the keys to their teen driver and allows them to drive. If the parent knows their teen is not only inexperienced but also incompetent and reckless, this can lead to a negligent entrustment claim.
  • Employer-Employee negligent entrustment occurs if a company knows its driver is reckless, inexperienced with the vehicle type, or has a history of accidents. When the company still allows that driver behind the wheel, this opens the doorway to negligent entrustment.
  • Friend – Friend negligent entrustment happens when friend A lends friend B their car. If friend B causes an accident or injury, friend A could be held legally responsible, especially if they are aware that friend B has been in previous trouble for driving recklessly.

Negligent entrustment isn’t limited to incidents involving a car. If the owner of a handgun, motorcycle, boat, taser, or other objects allows someone untrained or uncertified use of those items, the owner may be liable for negligence. Employers providing inexperienced or poorly trained employees access to forklifts, pallet jacks, cranes, and jackhammers may also be held accountable.

Attorney Heath Brooks breaks down the term further in the video below. 

Does Negligent Entrustment Apply to Your Car Accident Case?

It certainly applies if you learn that the owner of a vehicle gave the driver permission to operate it. You must, however, show facts proving the owner knowingly permitted an incompetent, intoxicated, or reckless driver behind the wheel. You’ll also have to prove that decision caused your injuries. Establishing a parent or owner had actual knowledge of specific facts is unnecessary. It is only necessary to prove that a reasonable person would know the driver was incompetent or not a reasonably safe person.

Incompetence not only accounts for driving experience but other barriers, including:

  • physical and mental disability
  • improperly/non-licensed drivers
  • numerous prior accidents and DUIs
  • problematic medical issues such as epilepsy and blackouts

How to Defend Against a Negligent Entrustment Case

Insurance companies keep their money flowing by taking payments for insurance premiums but paying as little on claims as possible. They will hire their own attorneys, hoping to avoid compensating you for damages. To escape liability, insurance companies will claim:

  • The defendant was competent enough to operate or use the vehicle, device, or object.
  • The owner did not know the driver/user was incompetent.
  • The driver/operator took the vehicle or object without permission.

Your attorney will challenge those claims to prove the owner knew allowing the third party to use the vehicle, equipment, or item was unreasonably risky. Thus, the owner’s negligent entrustment specifically contributed to your injury.

At first glance, a negligent entrustment claim may appear open and shut. However, under closer examination, it could be much more complicated. These cases need an attorney who is well-versed in personal injury law and has a demonstrated ability to hold all liable parties accountable.

If you or a loved one has been injured by someone negligently entrusted with a vehicle or other equipment, please contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Timberlake & League. We can help.

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