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What Is Negligent Entrustment?

Posted on April 30, 2018

A personal injury claim in Birmingham might involve the legal doctrine of “negligent entrustment.” Negligent entrustment refers to the wrongdoing of providing a dangerous device to someone who cannot handle it safely or properly. Someone guilty of negligent entrustment might be liable for injuries or damages the second person causes with the dangerous device or instrument. Learn more about negligent entrustment to find out if you could include the owner of a dangerous device in your Alabama personal injury lawsuit.

Two Main Types of Negligent Entrustment Claims

Two types of personal injury cases make up the majority of negligent entrustment claims in Alabama: auto accidents and weapon-related violence. Firearms and vehicles are the two primary “devices” an owner could get into legal trouble for entrusting to the hands of someone incapable of using them properly. The idea behind negligent entrustment claims is that the owner of the vehicle or weapon should reasonably have known that the borrower could inflict harm to others due to his/her age, disabilities, or inexperience. Entrusting the person with the device anyway is negligence.

You might have a negligent entrustment claim against a person in Alabama if a car accident or criminal assault injured you or a loved one. The claim against the third-party lender could be your only source of recovery if the person who injured you was a minor (under 18 years old) or unavailable (e.g., a driver in hit-and-run) for your lawsuit. For instance, if a 16-year-old driver hits you with a vehicle, you might be able to name the driver’s parent as a defendant for negligent entrustment. You could name both the perpetrator and the negligent lender defendants in other scenarios.

What Does Alabama Law Consider as Negligent Entrustment?

A defendant could be guilty of negligent entrustment if he or she expressly loaned the dangerous item, continuously allowed consent to use the item, or simply made the item available for use. A plaintiff may show that an owner is responsible for damages even if he or she did not give the borrower permission to use the item, if the owner failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent such use.

Parents and the owners of dangerous items have duties to reasonably prevent others from using these items without permission. For example, the owner of a firearm has a duty to keep the firearm out of the hands of his or her children without authorized use. Failing to fulfill these duties, resulting in the child or borrower harming others with the object, is negligent entrustment in the state of Alabama.

Proving Negligent Entrustment in Alabama

Like other personal injury claims, a victim must prove certain elements to recover damages from the negligent entrustment of a device in Alabama. Establishing these elements might require a full investigation of the accident, collection of evidence, eyewitness interviews, and expert testimony. A lawyer can help you prove your claim in the Alabama civil courts. You will need the following five elements:

  1. The owner of the weapon, vehicle, or device did in fact entrust the item to the individual who injured the plaintiff.
  2. The borrower was incompetent, negligent, reckless, or otherwise incapable of using the item properly.
  3. The owner knew or reasonably should have known that the lender could not use the item properly.
  4. The borrower used the item negligently or improperly.
  5. The borrower’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s damages.

Succeeding in a negligent entrustment claim requires proving that the owner of the item knew of its propensity for harm and knew of the borrower’s incompetence, yet still entrusted the item to the borrower. It also requires showing that the incompetent or negligent borrower actually caused the plaintiff’s accident and resultant injuries or property damage. These claims can be difficult to prove and require help from a Birmingham personal injury lawyer.