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What Is Negligent Entrustment?


As you work your way through the aftermath of experiencing a car accident in Pennsylvania, the issue of liability eventually arises. You may be quick to give the benefit of the doubt to the person that caused your car accident. The expenses resulting from your accident, however, may prompt you into seeking a liability claim.

Should you discover (in the pursuit of that claim) that the driver that hit you was not in their own vehicle at the time (due to a poor driving history), you may question why one would entrust such a driver with their vehicle. You may also wonder whether you might also extend liability to that third party.

Negligent Entrustment Explained

A legal principle exists known as negligent entrustment allows for just that. This places additional emphasis on the importance of vehicle owners understanding the driving capabilities of those they entrust with their vehicles.

How to Prove Negligent Entrustment of Motor Vehicle in Pennsylvania

To recover for the negligent entrustment, you must prove the following elements:

  • The owner of the car entrusted the vehicle to the person driving at the time of the accident
  • The person driving was incompetent, reckless, or unlicensed
  • The owner of the car knew or should have known that the driver was incompetent, reckless, or unlicensed
  • The driver was negligent in how they operated the vehicle
  • And that the driver’s negligence caused damages

To put it simply, if the owner of the vehicle was aware of specific instances of the driver’s recklessness or incompetence, they may be liable for negligent entrustment.

Reviewing Pennsylvania’s Negligent Entrustment Standard

However, the fact that the driver that caused your accident simply was not in their own vehicle at the time may not necessarily translate to negligent entrustment applying to your car accident case. Pennsylvania state court rulings cite the fact that the state follows the standard set in the Restatement (Second) of Torts, which states that one entrusting any instrument they own to a person that the owner knows (or should know) that the person’s use of the instrument may pose a significant risk to others.

What this means is that a vehicle owner does not necessarily have to know that the driver has a poor driving history for negligent entrustment to apply. If (through the exercise of due care) that knowledge would come forth, you may still hold them liable. However, the owner must have knowingly entrusted the vehicle to the driver. 

Put Over 100 Years of Combined Experience on Your Side Today

At Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George, we care about every single one of our clients. You will never be treated like just another case number. Instead, you can expect our team to take time to get to know you, learn what happened, and explain how we can help. We strive to develop meaningful relationships with our clients so they know that we always have their backs. We proudly serve New Castle & Western Pennsylvania.

Suffering from a car accident and unsure who to hold liable? Call Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George P.C. today at (724) 576-8855 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with our experienced New Castle car accident attorney!