What if you are injured in a car wreck caused by the fault of another driver? Is the other driver the only person responsible? What if the driver has no insurance and can’t pay for your damages? Are you out of luck? Not necessarily.
As an experienced auto accident lawyer, we will conduct an investigation and determine who legally owned or controlled the vehicle being operated by the driver who hit you. In many cases, the operator and the owner will be the same, but in some cases, they are not.
When the owner and operator of a vehicle are not the same, and depending on the facts of the case, you may have a claim for what is referred to as “negligent entrustment.” Many states, including Tennessee, recognize a cause of action for negligently entrusting an automobile to a person who is should not be using it.
Elements of a Negligent Entrustment Claim
There are four elements of a negligent entrustment claim that results in a car accident:
(1) an entrustment of a vehicle,
(2) to a person incompetent to use it,
(3) with knowledge that the person is incompetent, and
(4) that is the proximate cause of injury or damage to the injured person.
As an auto accident lawyer Memphis, TN turns to for answers, we know that the liability of an owner is generally imposed where an owner entrusts a vehicle to someone whose appearance, conduct, or history demonstrates an inability to operate the vehicle with care. Sometimes that incompetence is readily apparent (e.g., intoxication, underage, etc.), and sometimes it requires affirmative proof that the owner had knowledge of facts and circumstances that would show the owner was aware of the incompetency (e.g., knowing about a driver’s bad driving record, or lack of a proper license, etc.).
Negligent Entrustment in Other Types of Cases
Negligent entrustment claims aren’t limited just to car accident cases. It is also possible to have a negligent entrustment claim involving entrustment of other personal property, such as guns and ammunition. For example, let’s say you were accidentally injured by Person X who was using a gun entrusted to him by Owner. You might have a negligent entrustment claim against Owner if Owner knew or should have known that Person X had not been properly trained or experienced enough to use the gun safely, or that Owner should have foreseen that providing the gun to Person X would create an unreasonable risk of physical harm to others.
If you need help with your car wreck or negligent entrustment case, contact the auto accident lawyer.
Thanks to our friends and contributors at Patterson Bray who have significant experience fighting for car accident victims in Tennessee.