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What is a Negligently Entrusted Vehicle?

Home » What is a Negligently Entrusted Vehicle?
October 06, 2017
Edward Smith


What is a Negligently Entrusted Vehicle?

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Sometimes, there are more parties at fault for an accident than just the negligent driver behind the wheel. When the owner of a vehicle knows (or should know) that a vehicle or driver is unsafe they may be exposing themselves and the public to a dangerous liability.

Negligent Entrustment

Negligent entrustment is a legal principle that establishes responsibility in the event of an accident. An owner who negligently entrusts their car to an incompetent driver, or negligently entrusts a defective vehicle to another person, can be found liable for injuries caused by an accident. The basis for liability in such cases is not the negligence of the driver, but the owners own independent negligence in entrusting the vehicle to an incompetent driver, or in defective condition.

Defective Condition

Every car owner has a duty to refrain from putting dangerous vehicles on public roadways. It is an owner’s duty to maintain their automobile in safe condition- this duty may not be delegated to another.  If a defective vehicle is loaned or otherwise conveyed with a reasonable expectation of being used on public roads, a person hurt as a result of a crash caused by a defective condition can hold the vehicle’s owner responsible for those injuries.

Incompetent Drivers

If the owner of a vehicle knowingly entrusts a vehicle to a driver that they know (or should know) is not competent to safely operate the vehicle. Allowing an unlicensed or inexperienced, reckless, or intoxicated driver to operate a vehicle on public roads puts the public at risk and constitutes negligence on the part of the vehicle owner.

Drunk Drivers

Enabling another person to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol is an example of negligent entrustment and puts innocent people at risk. If a vehicle owner knows (or should know) that a person is intoxicated, they may be held responsible for injuries sustained in any accident that person causes while driving their car drunk. An owner who permits a person to drive their vehicle after supplying that person with alcohol is engaging in a negligent action.

Reckless Drivers

Similarly, to letting an intoxicated person drive, enabling reckless drivers to get behind the wheel also puts innocent parties at risk. A vehicle owner’s knowledge of a driver’s prior accidents or reckless behavior- including drug or alcohol abuse- can make that owner liable for an accident caused by that reckless driver. If an owner knows (or should know) that a reckless driver will use their car in an unsafe manner, that owner may be held responsible for any injuries caused in a crash.

Unlicensed Drivers

An owner knowingly permitting a driver to operate a vehicle without a license can also constitute an owner’s negligence in the event of a proximately caused accident. If an owner loans or otherwise conveys a vehicle to an unlicensed person who they know (or should know) will use the vehicle on a public roadway is putting innocent people at risk in an act of negligent entrustment. Knowledge of a driver’s incompetence due to medical issues can also make an owner liable should they loan their vehicle to such a driver.

Related Articles by Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer, Ed Smith:

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Personal Injury Lawyer from Sacramento. Have you or someone you love been seriously injured in an auto accident due to the negligence of another party? Please call me at (916) 921-6400 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice with no obligation. You can also reach me online and find more information at

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I have been acknowledged by the Million Dollar Advocates, an association of trial lawyers who have obtained verdicts in excess of $1 million-dollar for their clients.

You can read about some of the results I have achieved for my clients on my website’s Past Verdicts and Settlements page.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Key Fab by Elgato. CC BY-SA 3.0
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