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Negligent Entrustment of Motor Vehicle

What is Negligence Entrustment of Motor Vehicle? 

Owners of cars, trucks, or motorcycles who entrust their vehicles to an incompetent, reckless, or inexperienced driver are liable under negligent entrustment laws. It is possible for the vehicle owner to be held responsible for damages caused by that person.


The plaintiff must prove five things in order to prove negligent entrustment of a motor vehicle: The motorist was negligent while operating the vehicle; The defendant owned or possessed the vehicle with the permission of the owner; The defendant knew or should have known that the motorist was an incompetent driver; The defendant permitted the driver to drive the vehicle; and The driver’s incompetence, inexperience, or unfitness to drive was a substantial factor in causing harm to the plaintiff.

In addition, giving a motor vehicle to a minor who is not legally or safely permitted to drive is also a crime under California Penal Code 193.8(a).


Legal Definition Of Negligence 

Legal Definition Of Negligence 

If negligent entrustment results in a cause of action, vicarious liability is determined by applying the general negligence laws of California. An individual is considered negligent in California if he or she fails to act in a manner that a reasonably careful person would in the same situation when he or she owes a duty to the defendant.

Duty Of Care

Duty Of Care In A Negligent Entrustment Case

The California Vehicle Code outlines California's duty of care in negligent entrustment cases. Basically, owners or managers of motor vehicles are prohibited from knowingly letting people drive their vehicles if they are not licensed or competent to do so. An owner may not give someone permission to use a vehicle if he or she knows, or should know, that the driver(s): Are underage; Are drunk or stoned; Lack a California driver's license; Have a suspended or revoked license; Are sick in some way that makes driving dangerous; or Have recently been convicted of DUI or reckless driving. 


California Vehicle Code 14606 (a): No person shall hire, employ, permit, or authorize any other person to drive a motor vehicle owned or controlled by him or her unless the person holds a valid license for driving that vehicle.


California Vehicle Code 14607 states that no person shall permit or cause his child, ward, or employee to drive a vehicle on the highways unless they are licensed according to this code.


Code 14608(a) of the California Vehicle Code requires that a person not rent an automobile unless they meet both of the following requirements: The person who rents the vehicle must be licensed under this code or must be licensed by the state or country where they reside. When renting to another person, the person inspects the driver's license of the person to whom the vehicle is to be rented and compares either their signature with that of the person renting the vehicle whom the vehicle is to be rented or the photograph thereon with the person to whom the vehicle is to be rented.

“Negligent Entrustment Of A Motor Vehicle”

Defenses To “Negligent Entrustment Of A Motor Vehicle”

In a negligent entrustment case, there are potential defenses, including (but not limited to): The car owner (entrustor) did not know and was not aware that the driver was unfit to drive. The driver was not the cause of the accident. It was not the driver who injured the plaintiff. The defendant entrusted the driver with the vehicle as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances.

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