Fairfax, Leesburg & Loudoun, Virginia

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Doug Landau
Doug Landau
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Who is to blame? – Negligent Entrustment

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“An unfit driver borrowed a friend’s car and hit me. Can I sue the friends for putting him behind the wheel?”

In a recent Arlington Circuit Court case, the defendant allegedly knew that the 17-year-old, who was entrusted with her vehicle, was an inexperienced driver on a restricted license due to her speeding and racing habits. The plaintiff, who was injured by the unfit driver in an accident, brought a negligent entrustment case against the car owner to court.

Negligent entrustment in these cases can arise where a parent lends or "entrusts" a car (or other dangerous machinery) to an underage or unfit person, and that person causes injury to an innocent victim.

In this claim, the plaintiff must prove that

  • The defendant expressly or impliedly permitted the driver to drive his or her vehicle
  • The driver was an unfit driver
  • *The defendant knew or should have known the driver was unfit
  • *The driver was negligent as a result of the unfitness
  • *The driver’s negligence was a proximate cause of the plaintiffs’ injuries.

In the Arlington case, the court ruled in favor of the defendants, and therefore, the car owners did not have to pay even though the plaintiff had evidence that entrusting their friend with a vehicle, when they knew the friend was a bad driver, was the reason the driver caused the accident.

The best way to determine what claims can be made (and won) and who may be responsible for your losses is by consulting an experienced trial lawyer.