Many come to the team here at the Law Offices of Carl. D. Barnes following a car accident with largely the same plans; they simply want to move on from their accidents (regardless of any frustrations they may feel towards those responsible for their collisions). Yet those frustrations may be even further compounded should they learn those responsible parties had poor driving histories.
It becomes even more difficult to ignore when it turns out that those drivers were not using their own vehicles at the time (but were rather entrusted with a car by another). It is at that point that accident victims may reasonably begin to ask whether attempting to hold the vehicle owners liable.
Such vicarious liability is possible due to a legal principle known as “negligent entrustment.” This doctrine applies when the owner of a potentially dangerous chattel (in this case, a motor vehicle) lends it to one likely to cause harm with it (due to either inexperience, negligence or incompetence). Given that a reasonable assumption may exist that a vehicle owner would not lend their car to someone they do not know well, one might presume that negligent entrustment applies to any instance where one causes an accident while in another’s vehicle.
Yet that is not the case. Per California’s Civil Jury Instructions, a plaintiff in a car accident case citing negligent entrustment must prove the following:
This would exclude any case where a driver took a vehicle without the owner’s consent.