Every time you climb behind the wheel of your car and take to Baltimore County’s many roads and highways, you run the risk of experiencing a car accident. Yet this is a risk that you may view as acceptable given your belief that the other drivers you encounter on the road adhere to the same safe driving practices that you do.
Most of the time, that belief may prove to be true. Yet in that one instance where you run into an inexperienced, incompetent or downright reckless driver (or, better put, they run into you), you might reasonably question why they were on the road in the first place. That question becomes even more resounding if you subsequently discover that they were not driving their own vehicle at the time.
Assigning vicarious liability for car accidents
In such a situation, you may wonder whether it is possible to hold the person that permitted the driver to have access to their vehicle jointly liable for your accident. The law does indeed allow for this through the legal principle of negligent entrustment. Simply stated, negligent entrustment occurs when a vehicle owner entrusts their car, truck or SUV to a driver who then causes an accident with it. The point of this principle is to drive home the point of needing to exercise caution when loaning out a vehicle by adding the threat of accountability for a negligent driver’s actions.
Proving negligent entrustment
However, the fact that the driver that hit you was in another’s vehicle may not be enough (on its own) to apply negligent entrustment to your case. Rather, local state court rulings set the standard at showing that the vehicle owner knew (or should have known) that the driver’s limitations would present a heightened risk of an accident to you and other motorists.