It goes without saying that car accidents are typically accompanied by a good deal of frustration. Not only do you have to address the issue of repairing your vehicle, but you may also face serious injuries and mounting medical bills as you recover from the accident. That frustration would undoubtedly compound if you were to discover that the driver who caused your accident was not the owner of the vehicle and did not have a current license.
In that scenario, your first reaction would likely be to question why the owner of the vehicle would allow someone without a license to drive it. Your next question might be whether that particular vehicle owner can also share in the liability for your accident.
Defining “negligent entrustment”
The legal principle of negligent entrustment allows for just that. It adds a layer of accountability to vehicle owners by opening them up to liability claims if they entrust their car to another driver who then causes an accident. Per Georgia’s Motor Vehicles and Traffic Code, it is unlawful for a vehicle owner to allow an unlicensed driver to use their vehicle.
Citing negligent entrustment in your case
Just because the driver that caused your accident was not in their own vehicle does not necessarily mean that negligent entrustment applies to your case. You need to also prove the following:
- That the vehicle owner entrusted the car to the driver
- That the driver did not have a current license (or was otherwise unfit to operate the vehicle)
- That the vehicle owner had actual knowledge of this
- That the driver’s incompetent or negligent actions caused your accident
You may notice that this standard opens the door to also applying negligent entrustment to cases where a licensed driver caused a car accident.