What happens when you lend your car to someone and that person causes a Los Angeles car accident? Is the owner of the car liable if he/she didn’t actually cause the collision?
That’s the question facing actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson right now.
Mr. Hanks and Ms. Wilson are being sued by a driver who was rear-ended by their son Chet last year.
That driver claims that Mr. Hanks and Ms. Wilson, who owned the offending vehicle, should have never let their son Chet drive it because he was addicted to drugs.
The case brings to light California’s negligent entrustment rules.
When one entrusts his or her motor vehicle to one whom he or she knows is incompetent or unfit to drive, the owner of the vehicle may be held liable for an injury inflicted by the use made thereof by that driver, provided the plaintiff can establish that the injury was proximately caused by the driver’s disqualification, incompetency, inexperience, or recklessness (Flores v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co. (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 1055, 1063).
Common examples include lending your car to someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Other circumstances may apply too.
There is also a jury instruction on negligent entrustment. The instruction lists the rules required to prove negligent entrustment. They are:
1. The driver was negligent in operating the vehicle;
2. The one charged with negligent entrustment actually owned the vehicle;
3. The owner of the vehicle knew or should have known that the driver was incompetent or unfit to drive;
4. The owner permitted the driver to drive the vehicle; and
5. The driver’s incompetence or unfitness to drive was a substantial factor in causing harm to the plaintiff.
In conclusion, liability for a Los Angeles car crash doesn’t always stop at the person who caused the collision. If the owner of the vehicle was negligent in handing the keys over to the offending driver, a negligent entrustment case may be made.
For questions about your Los Angeles car accident or negligent entrustment case, the Rabbi Lawyer is ready to assist, 24/6!