The owner of a vehicle or other personal
property must take care when lending the property out to another person. The tort of negligent entrustment places
personal liability on a property owner who negligently entrusts the property to
another party. For liability to attach,
the owner of the property must have knowledge about the propensities or lack of
ability of the person to whom the property is entrusted. The risk presented must be foreseeable.
prove a claim for negligent entrustment, the plaintiff must show the following
1. That the defendant supplied some personal
property to a third person.
2. That the defendant knew or should have
known that such third person, due to youth, inexperience, or otherwise, was
likely to use the property in a manner that would present an unreasonable risk
of physical harm; and
3. That the defendant knew, or should have
known, that the persons at risk of harm would be the entrustee, or other
persons whom the defendant should expect to share in or be endangered as a
result of the use of such personal property.
this sounds complicated in the abstract, let’s take a simple example: Tom and Jerry are drinking at a bar. Tom can see that Jerry is clearly
intoxicated. Nevertheless, Tom gives
Jerry his keys and tells him to take it for a spin. Jerry proceeds to crash the vehicle, causing
serious injury to Tweety. Tweety now has
a claim for negligent entrustment against Tom.
defendant can be charged with knowledge when the defendant should inquire into
the circumstances further but fails to do so.
There is no specific test or hard rule concerning exactly what knowledge
is required, rather it is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
entrustment cases are sometimes brought against parents of children, employers
and lessors of property.
a gift can be the basis of negligent entrustment. In one case, the Maryland Court of Appeals
has held that a third party could not recover against the parents of the driver
of the vehicle which caused them injury, even where the parents were aware at
the time that they gave the driver a car that his conduct was reckless, because
the parents did not have the present ability to control the behavior of their
driver, and also lacked authority over the automobile.
information contained on this page is provided as general information and does
not constitute legal advice. The
experienced attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. can assist you if you have
a negligent entrustment claim. We’d be
happy to sit down with you and review your situation and provide appropriate
advice. Call today for a no-obligation
consultation. There is no consultation
fee for cases involving personal injury.
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