Understanding negligent entrustment

Given the number of motorists that utilize San Antoni's roads, car accidents are almost viewed as being an inevitability (despite the best efforts of local residents in trying to implement defensive driving practices). Indeed, according to information shared by the Association for Safe International Road Travel, 2.35 million Americans are injured in car accidents every year. It is when drivers do not attempt to drive defensively that those who suffer in accidents that they cause question their fitness for being behind the wheel. That questioning might even extend to who would allow such a driver to have access to a vehicle. 

The legal principle of negligent entrustment allows car accident victims to assign vicarious liability to the owners of the vehicles that caused their accidents (even if those owners were not driving their vehicles at the time). The logic supporting this doctrine is that vehicle owners should be responsible when loaning their cars out to others and not allow drivers who have proven themselves to be reckless or inexperienced behind the wheel to have access to their vehicles. 

The standard for applying the doctrine of negligent entrustment to car accident cases in Texas has been established in state court rulings. It is as follows: 

  • One must prove that a vehicle owner entrusted their vehicle to another
  • It must be shown that the driver to whom the vehicle was entrusted was unlicensed, reckless or incompetent
  • The vehicle owner had to have known (or should have known) of the driver's tendencies 
  • The driver's recklessness was on display in the accident
  • The driver's recklessness, incompetence or inexperience was the proximate cause of the accident

Per this standard, cases where a vehicle was used without the owner's permission would not qualify. 

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