What Is Negligent Entrustment?
Imagine this scenario: Your friend needs to borrow your car. Maybe he needs to run an errand. You let him. While he’s out on the errand, he decides to stop for a few drinks. Inebriated, he gets behind the wheel (again, in your car), and injures or kills someone.
His fault, of course. But what about you? Would you have any liability? The initial answer may seem like it is no. After all, you didn’t tell him to drink. Or let him drink, much less, allow him to drive drunk.
Negligent Entrustment May Mean You’re Liable
But you may actually have liability, under a theory called negligent entrustment. In plain language, someone can be liable for trusting someone else with an item that could harm others, when the person knows or should have known that allowing the other person to use the item, could cause injury or damage.
Examples of Negligent Entrustment
A classic situation is when injury is caused by guns. Person A allows person B to use their gun to go out and shoot targets for fun. But Person A has no idea that Person B has no idea how to use a gun. Or, has no idea that Person B may have a criminal record, or anything else in Person B’s background that may indicate that it is a bad idea to let them borrow a gun.
Person B, as the operator and shooter, is liable for injuries caused by the gun–but Person A may be liable as well under a negligent entrustment theory.
Businesses can often get sued for the actions and omissions of their employees, especially when those employees are independent contractors. Many companies use third party delivery companies, installers, or in-home service people, without conducting background checks.
For example, a company that entrusts a separate company to go into their customers’ homes and do installations, can be liable when those contractors cause injury, either personally, or with their vehicle. This is under both a theory of vicarious liability, and negligent entrustment.
Letting teenagers use cars, trucks, ATVs or other items, are common sources of liability. We often think our kids, especially teenage kids, are old enough and mature enough to do what adults can do. But when they cause injury, the owners of these items are also liable for injuries caused by others.
One question to ask is whether a reasonable person would allow the other person to use, borrow, or operate, whatever items the other person wants to use or operate. This may depend on the situation. A reasonable person may not just let anybody use their gun, whereas a reasonable person may let an adult borrow a car without doing a full background check.
Call the Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers at Rosen Injury Law for help. Many people or businesses could be responsible for your injuries. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to see who may be liable for your accident.