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What is negligent entrustment?

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If you are involved in a car accident in West Covina, you may ultimately be left with little choice but to seek compensation from the driver that caused the collision in order to cover accident expenses such as medical bills, lost wages and/or repairs to your vehicle. Yet what if the driver who struck you was a teenager? He or she likely does not have the resources to help you. In such a case, are you then permitted to seek compensation from his or her parents?

The legal principle of negligent entrustment allows you to hold the owner of a dangerous instrumentality (in this case, a vehicle) liable for the actions of another to whom he or she entrusted to use said instrumentality. In other words, a parent who loans his or her child a car to drive can be made responsible for the child's actions when using the car. However, simply because this situation may have occurred in your case does not necessarily mean that negligent entrustment automatically applies.

According to the California Civil Jury Instructions, you must prove the following points in order to recover damages under this principle:

  •          The teen was negligent in his or her operation of the vehicle.
  •          The parent owned the vehicle or had been given permission by its owner to possess it.
  •          The parent knew (or should have known) that the teen was unfit to safely drive the vehicle.
  •          The parent gave the teen permission to drive the vehicle.
  •          The teen's inability to safely drive the vehicle contributed significantly to any harm you suffered.

Negligent entrustment does not only apply to teen drivers (and may not apply to all teen drivers, for that matter). It may be cited in any case where it is believed one's poor driving skills caused an accident. 

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