You likely take great pride in your strong driving skills and assume that others feel the same way. Yet the fact that auto accidents continue to be an issue seems like proof that reckless drivers are still on the roads. Your hope, then, is that those with a poor driving history have limited access to vehicles.
If such a driver hits you, you may rightly question who was irresponsible enough to entrust that person with his or her vehicle.
That question may lead you to wonder if it is possible to assign liability for your collision to the owner of the vehicle. Third-party liability may be an option in these cases thanks to the legal principle of negligent entrustment.
From a legal perspective, the standard assumption is that vehicle owners should be cautious in determining who they allow to use their cars. The courts may consider loaning a car to a driver with a poor driving record as a failure to meet that obligation. Thus, in such a scenario, a judge may require a vehicle owner and the reckless driver to share in the liability.
Indiana’s legal standard
Negligent entrustment does not apply to every case where a driver caused an accident in another’s vehicle. To prove negligent entrustment, you must provide evidence of the following:
- The vehicle owner entrusted it to another
- The driver was incapable of using it with due care
- The vehicle owner had actual or specific knowledge of the driver’s incapability
- The act of entrustment was the proximate cause of your accident
- Your accident resulted in damages
Local state court rulings set this standard. Two important elements are present, the first being that the vehicle owner had to have known that the person using the vehicle was a poor driver. The second is that the owner knowingly entrusted the vehicle to the driver. This excludes any case where the driver was using the vehicle without permission.