I let my friend borrow a car and they got in an accident. Is that something that will affect me?
If you lend your car to friends, you could be liable for something called “negligent entrustment.” It all comes down to whether your friend causes a wreck and injures someone. It also depends on whether you felt that your friend might not drive safely.
You, as the car’s owner, have a duty to be reasonably sure that anyone borrowing your car will drive it responsibly. “Reasonably sure” means that you have no reason to believe that your friend could be a danger behind the wheel.
Example: Your friend Joe has been drinking alcohol and you lend him your car. Joe gets into an accident with your car and he is at fault. Remember: Texas is an at-fault state, which means that the driver who is at fault for the accident has to pay for the damage he caused. In this case, you could have to pay too, because you should have been reasonably sure that Joe wouldn’t be a safe driver because he’d been drinking.
Texas courts have found that the following elements of negligence must be proven:
- You loaned the car to a person;
- The person was either unlicensed, had a history of reckless driving, or was incompetent like Joe was in the example;
- You are aware of the items in #2;
- The person was negligent while driving your car (drunk driving is negligent); and
- The person’s negligent driving caused an accident.
In order for you to be liable for negligent entrustment, all five elements must be proven.
There’s an exception, though. If Joe was not at fault for the accident, you can’t be sued for negligent entrustment. In that case, the element of proving Joe was guilty of negligent driving could not be met.
Proving that a vehicle owner is liable for negligent entrustment can be complex and difficult. If you were injured in an accident and the other driver did not own the car, call Justinian and Associates today.