Every so often, a potential client wants to know if he or she is responsible for an accident caused by someone who was driving their car. The answer is not always cut and dry. There are certain factors to consider, which we will outline in this article.
In legal terms, the issue at hand is referred to as “negligent entrustment.” This means you might be held accountable for the damage caused in the accident if you were aware that the driver could be negligent. This is often the case if one or all of the following can be proved:
That the driver was intoxicated when you let him or her drive your car
If the driver has a poor driving record (a history of accidents) which you were aware of.
If the driver was inexperienced or unlicensed in the state of Pennsylvania when you gave him or her the keys to your car.
In this type of situation, there are generally about five components which the injured party must prove in order to hold you liable for the accident:
That the vehicle was entrusted to the negligent driver by the owner (you)
That the negligent driver was in fact driving without a license, was driving under the influence, or was driving recklessly.
That the owner of the automobile (you) should have reasonably known that the driver was going to be in any way dangerous behind the wheel.
That the driver whom was entrusted to drive your car did in fact behave negligently in the situation.
That the negligence of the driver whom you entrusted with your car did in fact result in damages.
Negligent entrustment is occasionally referred to as vicarious liability. In Pennsylvania, courts have been known to recognize this form of liability. So, when you entrust your vehicle to a friend, family member, or coworker, it behooves you to consider whether or not this decision could be putting someone in harm’s way.
For more information regarding entrusting your motor vehicle to another person, see our FAQ section, which refers to the issue of whether your insurance company will cover the damage in the event that your friend is involved in an accident while driving your car. Carpey Law has a great many articles regarding car accidents in Pennsylvania and car accident law in Pennsylvania. See our blog category pages to read more on the subject.
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.