While the threat of a car accident is ever-present, people in Arlington Heights typically do not think twice about taking to the area’s roads. They likely assume that those around them share the same level of concern for safety that they do. For those that do not, the assumption often is that the results of their reckless actions (whether those be criminal, legal, or financial consequences) will naturally keep them off the road. 

Yet what happens when a vehicle owner entrusts such a driver with a car (and that driver subsequently causes an accident)? Can victims of such an accident hold the vehicle owner responsible? 

Understanding negligent entrustment 

The legal doctrine of negligent entrustment allows for just that. Merriam-Webster defines “negligent entrustment” as “the entrusting of a dangerous article (as a motor vehicle) to one who is reckless or too inexperienced or incompetent to use it safely.” The assumption behind the assigning of liability in this scenario is that a vehicle owner should know the driving capabilities of those that they loan their vehicles to.

Applying negligent entrustment to a car accident case 

This reveals the essential element of applying negligent entrustment when pushing for a liability claim in the wake of a car accident. An accident victim cannot merely show that the driver that hit them was driving another’s vehicle in order to cite negligent entrustment. Rather, (according to Illinois state court rulings) they must show that the vehicle owner both knew (or should have known) of the driver’s limitations, and then even knowing that they still gave the driver permission (either expressly or implied) to use their car. This excludes any scenarios in which the driver took the vehicle without the owner’s knowledge.