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Understanding negligent entrustment

On Behalf of | Jan 8, 2019 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

For those in Toms River that have been involved in motor vehicle accidents, perhaps nothing is more disheartening to learn that their insurance payout will not be enough to cover their accident expenses. In such cases, people may feel as though they have little choice but to take legal action against the drivers that caused their collisions in order to earn compensation. However, in those instances where a crash was caused by a blatantly negligent, reckless or incompetent driver, the odds of such a driver having adequate insurance coverage themselves may be slim. So what are accident victims to do at this point? 

The legal philosophy of negligent entrustment allows car accident victims to assign vicarious liability to parties who may have loaned their vehicles to poor drivers. The logic behind this concept of shared liability is that the vehicle owners had to have known (or should have known) that the people they were borrowing their cars to were either irresponsible or incompetent behind the wheel. Even with this knowledge, however, they loaned out their vehicles anyway, thus inadvertently putting others at risk. Indeed, New Jersey state courts had recognized for years in the their rulings that entrusting a vehicle to one who lacks legal authority or competence to operate is considered to be negligence. 

Yet the state’s opinion on the matter changed slightly in 2018. A bill introduced during the state’s legislative session for that year amended the state’s stance on negligent entrustment to apply it only in cases where vehicle owners loaned a vehicle to one known to not have a drivers’ license. While this may limit the citing of this concept in court cases, it may make applying it easier to prove (for records can be shown proving that one does not have a license).