What is negligent entrustment?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2020 | Firm News |

Many frustrations may accompany a car accident in North Carolina. You may feel frustrated about the accident in general, or specifically regarding the injuries you sustained or the damage caused to your vehicle. You may also experience frustration when dealing with insurance providers who fail to offer adequate compensation to cover all of your expenses. 

Those frustrations are often tempered, however, by the assumption that your accident was just that: an accident due to unanticipated circumstances. Yet what happens when you learn that the person that hit you had a history of poor and/or reckless driving (and worse yet, that someone else entrusted them with a vehicle knowing this)? Not only may you reasonably want to seek action against the driver, but also the party that allowed them to driver their car. 

Defining “negligent entrustment”

Is the latter even possible? It is, thanks to the legal principle of negligent entrustment. According to the International Risk Management Institute, negligent entrustment occurs when one fails to exercise due caution when entrusting another with a potentially dangerous chattel (the definition of which a vehicle falls into). The purpose of this doctrine is the reaffirm the importance of responsible ownership by adding an extra layer of accountability to actions involving a third party (which would be you in the case of a car accident). 

Meeting the criteria for negligent entrustment in North Carolina

Yet the mere fact that the driver that hit you was not driving their own vehicle at the time may not be enough to apply negligent entrustment to your car accident case. Rather, North Carolina state court rulings require the presence of certain elements. The first is a clearly-identified circumstances where an owner entrusted their vehicle to another. The second is evidence that the owner knew (or should have known) of the driver’s troubled driving history.