Negligent Entrustment of a Motor Vehicle: What You Should Know
Anytime a person is injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another driver, the injured party will typically be able to file a claim against the at-fault party. However, there are also times when the injured party may be able to file a claim against the owner of the vehicle if the owner allowed the vehicle to be driven by someone who should not have been behind the wheel in the first place. These claims typically revolve around the negligent entrustment of a motor vehicle. Here, we want to discuss how these claims work in Illinois and whether or not you may be able to file a claim against the vehicle owner if you have been injured in an accident.
What is Negligent Entrustment?
In the aftermath of most vehicle accidents, the victim will be able to file a claim against the negligent driver. However, it may also be warranted, under Illinois law, to file a claim directly against the owner of the vehicle if the owner is different than the driver. In order to bring this type of negligent entrustment case, there are various things that need to be proven by the injury victim. This includes the following:
- The vehicle owner has the “superior right of control” of the vehicle involved in the accident. This means that the vehicle owner has the authority to grant or withhold consent to another person’s operation of the vehicle. In other words, the vehicle owner had to grant permission to the at-fault driver to operate the vehicle in the first place.
- It will then need to be shown that the car owner knew or should have known that the defendant intended to use or was likely to use the vehicle in a way that created an unreasonable risk of harm to others on the roadway. In other words, the vehicle owner could be held liable for negligently entrusting the vehicle to a person who they knew was an experienced driver, an incompetent driver, or a reckless driver.
We can imagine a brief scenario to try to illustrate how this particular situation may arise. Let us suppose that a 16-year-old daughter returns home from school one day and tells her mother that there is a big party planned at a friend’s house that evening. The daughter asks the mother’s permission to use her vehicle and says that she will behave responsibly. However, what if the 16-year-old daughter has already received a ticket within the past two months related to underage drinking and driving?
If the mother is aware of her daughter’s DUI and still allows her to use the vehicle, then the mother could be responsible if the daughter consumes alcohol at the party, gets behind the wheel of the vehicle, and causes an accident that leads to injuries.
How Could This Apply to an Accident Case?
Negligent entrustment of a vehicle claim is a unique type of case in Illinois because this is essentially holding a third party responsible for the actions of another driver. However, any person injured due to the careless or negligent actions of a driver should explore all routes of recovering compensation for their losses. Sometimes, the insurance carrier of the vehicle owner will put up a fight against having to pay these claims in the first place. If that happens, it may certainly be necessary to file a lawsuit against the owner of the vehicle.
If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of a driver who should not have been operating the vehicle in the first place, you need to speak to a Chicago car accident attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will evaluate the totality of the situation and help determine the best steps moving forward, including exploring the possibility of a negligent entrustment case.