Negligent Entrustment of a Motor Vehicle

Negligent entrustment of a motor vehicle is a recognized cause of action in Texas that may be brought against the owner, or in some circumstances one who has control over, of a motor vehicle driven by another when the driver injures someone while driving the car in a dangerous manner. The Law Offices of Patrick R. Kelly is a Dallas / Fort Worth area attorney who has experience in representing injured drivers and pedestrians against owners of vehicles who were the instrument in causing such pain and injury.

Almost always, an injured party has recourse against another driver who caused an auto accident. But it may also be warranted and beneficial under Texas law to bring a claim directly against the owner of the vehicle. To bring such a negligent entrustment claim, the following must be proven by the injured driver:

(1) the entrustment of a vehicle by its owner or custodian, (2) to an incompetent driver, (3) that the owner knew or should have known was unlicensed, incompetent, or reckless, (4) that the driver was negligent on the occasion in question, and (5) the driver's negligence proximately caused the accident. Williams v. Steves Indus., Inc., 699 S.W.2d 570, 571 (Tex.1985).

Insurance companies will bend over backwards to preclude or deny a claim by an injured party in negligent entrustment cases. So it is highly recommended to have a competent personal injury attorney represent the injured person. The insurance company makes common arguments such as that the car was not actually owned by the person against whom the claim is brought. But Texas courts have held that ownership is not necessarily required. A person who manages or has control over the vehicle can negligently “entrust” the vehicle to a dangerous driver. Texas courts have held that the enstrustor needs only a right of control and not necessarily ownership.

Denying a claim and refusing to fairly compensate the injured driver can also be based on the insurance company’s defense that the driver was not known to be a threat to other drivers. A plaintiff’s lawyer worth his or her salt will uncover evidence that may exist to prove this point – such as evidence of driving without a license, a history of driving while intoxicated, and numerous traffic violations.

Once it is shown that he enstrustor of the car, motorcycle, or truck owned or controlled the car and that the driver of that motor vehicle was an incompetent driver, most cases hinge on whether the driver of the entrusted vehicle negligently caused injuries to the victim. In other words, the plaintiff must prove the same requirement in any car wreck case – that the negligent driving of the other driver caused a wreck, that in turn caused physical injury and suffering to the plaintiff. If the attorney for an injured party can show that the incompetent driver caused a motor vehicle action that injured the plaintiff, the person who entrusted the vehicle to the incompetent driver will likely have civil liability exposure.

If you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle accident, then the Law Offices of Patrick R. Kelly should be your legal counsel. He has experience in seeking the most compensation possible including through unique claims such as negligent entrustment. Call his Dallas or Fort Worth office today for a free consultation.

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