Negligent entrustment is the legal doctrine by which owners of motor vehicles are held liable for accidents/injuries caused by their motor vehicle while someone other than the owner is operating said vehicle.
In everyday life, we loan our vehicles to people on occasion; family members, friends and even co-workers. However, we have a legal duty to ensure that the individuals that we allow to use our vehicle are not dangerous drivers.
That means be careful who you allow to borrow your vehicle. Don't loan your vehicle to someone you know to be a dangerous driver or who appears to be intoxicated. Further, be sure to inspect your insurance policy. It is relatively rare, but some insurance policies only cover the owner of the vehicle and no one else.
Negligent entrustment is defined as knowing or should have knowing that a person was a dangerous driver and still allowing them to use our vehicle. If a vehicle owner negligently entrusts his/her vehicle, then that owner is liable for any accidents/injuries caused by the operation of the vehicle by the third party. How does one "know" that a person is a dangerous driver? A few examples would be: 1) if the person has a history of causing automobile accidents; 2) the person has a history of reckless driving including speeding tickets or DWIs; 3) the person borrowing the vehicle appears to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time. Obviously, each case is unique and has its own set of facts, but these are generally grounds for finding negligent entrustment.
In the vast majority of states, including Texas, vehicle owners are only held liable if they should have known the person they entrusted with their vehicle was a dangerous driver. However, in a select few states, such as Florida, vehicle owners are held strictly liable for any accidents or injuries caused by their vehicles. This means that even if the owner did not know and had know reason to know the driver was dangerous, they may still be liable.