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.

Understanding negligent entrustment

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.

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. Indeed, 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 need 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. Yet the owner must have knowingly entrusted the vehicle to the driver.