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Negligent Entrustment

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Negligent Entrustment Cases

Brien Roche

Negligent Entrustment, Agency and Insurance Coverage

Negligent entrustment is allowing an unfit person to drive. The act of negligent entrustment makes the owner liable for the acts of the driver. If the driver is doing something on behalf of the owner then the driver may also be the agent of the owner. This is a further grounds of the owner being liable. This is true even if the owner is not in the car and does know exactly what the driver is doing.

When you add in the issue of insurance coverage this gets even more complex. That is, is there coverage for negligent entrustment. This depends on the policy. In most cases the answer is Yes. The concept of agency is not the same as negligent entrustment. In addition neither one equates into there being insurance coverage.

Let me try to define each of these concepts:

  • Negligent entrustment is allowing an unfit driver to drive your car.
  • Agency arises when the driver is doing something on your behalf. If you allow the neighbor to drive your car to the store for a sixpack of beer then the neighbor is your agent for purposes of that trip.
  • Permissive use arises when the driver has your consent to drive the car. This is an insurance concept because a person driving with consent is covered by the same limits that cover the owner. This is mandated by law in most states. It is called the omnibus statute. It requires that coverage extend to the driver with consent in order to allow for the broadest amount of coverage to better protect the public. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Virginia Cases

The high court of Virginia citing Virginia Code Section 38.2-2204 required an insurer to not only provide coverage for a permissive  user but also equal coverage for the named insured who was the owner of the car. The owner was guilty of negligent entrustment.  As a result the total payout by the insurer could be $50,000. The policy limits are only $25,000. This is of note because this expands the scope of coverage. Rather than the single limit of $25,000, the plaintiff can claim double that amount.

Suppose a parent gives the car keys to their sixteen year old. They know the child is not able to drive in a safe fashion.  The child has some traffic tickets. She has had two crashes. They were her fault. The parents are on notice that the child needs tighter control and should not be be driving alone.  This is negligent entrustment. Other cases of negligent entrustment are where the driver is physically or mentally impaired, is under the influence of alcohol or the car is defective. The owner is aware of such.  The driving history of the user which is known by the owner (in our example the parent) may be enough to make a negligent entrustment claim.

Virginia’s Supreme Court has stated more than once that the correct test for negligent entrustment is whether the owner knew or had reasonable cause to know the car was being entrusted to an unfit driver who was likely to cause injury.  The mere fact that a driver did not have a license is not a basis for a negligent entrustment claim unless the reason for the driver being without a license was a cause of the crash. 

Reasons In Support of Negligent Entrustment

Arguments to be made to support negligent entrustment claims are the following:

  • As a matter of public policy they encourage trucking companies, employers and owners to research a driver’s background and skill level before putting that driver on the road.
  • Likewise punitive damage claims encourage employers to check out drivers but these claims survive only if the negligent entrustment survives.
  • In a comparative fault state the negligent entrustment claim bolsters the argument as to the defendant having a greater degree of fault.
  • If contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff is an issue then the negligent entrustment claim bolsters the plaintiff’s claim that the defendant is fully liable.

Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Negligent Entrustment and Cell Phone Usage

Cell phone and texting usage while driving causes crashes. Knowledge that a person you are loaning your auto to uses a cell phone while driving may be negligent entrustment. There is data that shows that the risk of a crash is four times higher for drivers who are on a cell phone or  texting.

Such usage is negligence per se if there is a statute that prohibits such. It may be gross negligence or a basis for punitive damages if the reckless driving statute or other statute imposes criminal penalties for driving while talking on a cell phone or texting.

Employer Liability

A claim of independent fault against an employer exists if the employer encouraged or expected the employee to use a cell phone for work related purposes while driving. Likewise the employer may be exposed if he failed to adopt and enforce a policy banning such.
Many major cell phone companies do not keep their billing and call history records for more than a few months. As a result you may have to file suit promptly to gather those records .

If  you were in a crash caused by a person using a cell phone or who was texting, contact us.

Parent Liability For Rowdy Teenage Passengers

Rowdy teenage passengers pose a greater risk for teenage drivers than do cell phones or message texting. This is from a April 2014 study from the University of North Carolina. Parents who allow such to occur are exposed to negligent entrustment claims. Teenage drivers are six times more likely to have to take some evasive action to avoid a crash when their passengers are talking loudly. Teenage drivers are three times more likely to have close calls if their passengers are engaged in horseplay. These are results of the University of North Carolina research center study.
This study placed two cameras in cars of teenage drivers. One of the cameras faced the road. The other camera focused inside the vehicle. This gave the researchers a better view to measure conduct.
Young women were found twice as likely as young men to be using electronic devices and three times more likely to hold a phone to their ear.

Laws Against Texting While Driving

Texting while driving is dangerous. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports that texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to crash than driving while not distracted. Every year, nearly half a million people are injured by distracted drivers.  This causes about 18% of all fatal crashes and crashes resulting in an injury.
It is up to the states to control this. Under the U.S. Constitution the states control driving safety. Many states have laws that make texting while driving illegal. A number of national campaigns have focused on stopping distracted driving. More awareness and advocacy is a step in the right direction.
Many states restrict the number of passengers that any teenage driver can carry. In Virginia only one passenger under age 21 is allowed for a period of 12 months after obtaining a license.

Seeking Legal Help

If you have been injured at the hands of a distracted driver, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries. Call, or contact us for a free consult. For more information see also the pages on Wikipedia.

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Negligent Entrustment

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Negligent Entrustment Cases

Brien Roche

Negligent Entrustment, Agency and Insurance Coverage

Negligent entrustment is allowing an unfit person to drive. The act of negligent entrustment makes the owner liable for the acts of the driver. If the driver is doing something on behalf of the owner then the driver may also be the agent of the owner. This is a further grounds of the owner being liable. This is true even if the owner is not in the car and does know exactly what the driver is doing.

When you add in the issue of insurance coverage this gets even more complex. That is, is there coverage for negligent entrustment. This depends on the policy. In most cases the answer is Yes. The concept of agency is not the same as negligent entrustment. In addition neither one equates into there being insurance coverage.

Let me try to define each of these concepts:

  • Negligent entrustment is allowing an unfit driver to drive your car.
  • Agency arises when the driver is doing something on your behalf. If you allow the neighbor to drive your car to the store for a sixpack of beer then the neighbor is your agent for purposes of that trip.
  • Permissive use arises when the driver has your consent to drive the car. This is an insurance concept because a person driving with consent is covered by the same limits that cover the owner. This is mandated by law in most states. It is called the omnibus statute. It requires that coverage extend to the driver with consent in order to allow for the broadest amount of coverage to better protect the public. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Virginia Cases

The high court of Virginia citing Virginia Code Section 38.2-2204 required an insurer to not only provide coverage for a permissive  user but also equal coverage for the named insured who was the owner of the car. The owner was guilty of negligent entrustment.  As a result the total payout by the insurer could be $50,000. The policy limits are only $25,000. This is of note because this expands the scope of coverage. Rather than the single limit of $25,000, the plaintiff can claim double that amount.

Suppose a parent gives the car keys to their sixteen year old. They know the child is not able to drive in a safe fashion.  The child has some traffic tickets. She has had two crashes. They were her fault. The parents are on notice that the child needs tighter control and should not be be driving alone.  This is negligent entrustment. Other cases of negligent entrustment are where the driver is physically or mentally impaired, is under the influence of alcohol or the car is defective. The owner is aware of such.  The driving history of the user which is known by the owner (in our example the parent) may be enough to make a negligent entrustment claim.

Virginia’s Supreme Court has stated more than once that the correct test for negligent entrustment is whether the owner knew or had reasonable cause to know the car was being entrusted to an unfit driver who was likely to cause injury.  The mere fact that a driver did not have a license is not a basis for a negligent entrustment claim unless the reason for the driver being without a license was a cause of the crash. 

Reasons In Support of Negligent Entrustment

Arguments to be made to support negligent entrustment claims are the following:

  • As a matter of public policy they encourage trucking companies, employers and owners to research a driver’s background and skill level before putting that driver on the road.
  • Likewise punitive damage claims encourage employers to check out drivers but these claims survive only if the negligent entrustment survives.
  • In a comparative fault state the negligent entrustment claim bolsters the argument as to the defendant having a greater degree of fault.
  • If contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff is an issue then the negligent entrustment claim bolsters the plaintiff’s claim that the defendant is fully liable.

Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Negligent Entrustment and Cell Phone Usage

Cell phone and texting usage while driving causes crashes. Knowledge that a person you are loaning your auto to uses a cell phone while driving may be negligent entrustment. There is data that shows that the risk of a crash is four times higher for drivers who are on a cell phone or  texting.

Such usage is negligence per se if there is a statute that prohibits such. It may be gross negligence or a basis for punitive damages if the reckless driving statute or other statute imposes criminal penalties for driving while talking on a cell phone or texting.

Employer Liability

A claim of independent fault against an employer exists if the employer encouraged or expected the employee to use a cell phone for work related purposes while driving. Likewise the employer may be exposed if he failed to adopt and enforce a policy banning such.
Many major cell phone companies do not keep their billing and call history records for more than a few months. As a result you may have to file suit promptly to gather those records .

If  you were in a crash caused by a person using a cell phone or who was texting, contact us.

Parent Liability For Rowdy Teenage Passengers

Rowdy teenage passengers pose a greater risk for teenage drivers than do cell phones or message texting. This is from a April 2014 study from the University of North Carolina. Parents who allow such to occur are exposed to negligent entrustment claims. Teenage drivers are six times more likely to have to take some evasive action to avoid a crash when their passengers are talking loudly. Teenage drivers are three times more likely to have close calls if their passengers are engaged in horseplay. These are results of the University of North Carolina research center study.
This study placed two cameras in cars of teenage drivers. One of the cameras faced the road. The other camera focused inside the vehicle. This gave the researchers a better view to measure conduct.
Young women were found twice as likely as young men to be using electronic devices and three times more likely to hold a phone to their ear.

Laws Against Texting While Driving

Texting while driving is dangerous. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports that texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to crash than driving while not distracted. Every year, nearly half a million people are injured by distracted drivers.  This causes about 18% of all fatal crashes and crashes resulting in an injury.
It is up to the states to control this. Under the U.S. Constitution the states control driving safety. Many states have laws that make texting while driving illegal. A number of national campaigns have focused on stopping distracted driving. More awareness and advocacy is a step in the right direction.
Many states restrict the number of passengers that any teenage driver can carry. In Virginia only one passenger under age 21 is allowed for a period of 12 months after obtaining a license.

Seeking Legal Help

If you have been injured at the hands of a distracted driver, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries. Call, or contact us for a free consult. For more information see also the pages on Wikipedia.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation