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Explaining the principle of negligent entrustment

Posted by Kenneth Doane | Jan 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

Every year countless new drivers are introduced onto Jeffersonville's roads. Ultimately, these new motorists will hopefully gain the experience needed to consistently navigate those roads safely while behind the wheel. Yet after being first introduced to driving, new motorists (especially teens) tend to exhibit many of the risk factors that contribute to car accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists some of those to be speeding, driving at odd hours and operating vehicles while intoxicated. Its data shows teens as being among those age groups more likely to engage in such behavior. 

Those involved in accidents that teens cause may end up facing inordinate expenses that may prompt them to seek added compensation. However, teens often do not have the resources to help victims in these cases. Fortunately, a legal principle exists known as "negligent entrustment." It allows accidents victims to assign liability to those who entrusted reckless drivers with their vehicles. 

According to Indiana state appellate court rulings, five elements must be present in a case for negligent entrustment to be applied to it: 

  • A defendant (often a parent or guardian) entrusted a teen with his or her car
  • The teen (for whatever reason) was incapable of operating the car with due care
  • The defendant was aware of the teen driver's incapacity 
  • The act of entrusting the vehicle to the teen resulted in an accident
  • Damages and injuries were a result of the accident

In the example of a teen driver, if a teen takes his or her parents' car without their permission, those parents cannot be held liable (since they did not entrust him or her with the vehicle). If, however, the parents allowed the teen to use the car (knowing of his or her tendencies to drive recklessly), they may be held responsible. 

About the Author

Kenneth Doane

Ken is an experienced personal injury attorney and practices in southern Indiana and the metro Louisville area. Ken and his team handle every aspect of his clients' cases from pre-suit settlement negotiations through jury trial and appeal, if necessary. He has practiced for over 22 years and has ...


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