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April 9, 2021 | Gary Burger

Who Do I Sue if the Driver of the Vehicle is not the Owner?

Who do you have a claim against if you were injured in a car accident where the driver was not the owner of the vehicle? As in any car accident case, hiring an experienced car accident lawyer will make issues like determining who you have a claim against much easier. If, in your accident, the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident and the owner of that vehicle are not the same people, your St. Louis car accident attorney may look into the idea of negligent entrustment. Negligent entrustment defines when the vehicle owner is liable for damages even when they were not the one operating the vehicle. The law protects us from car owners giving unsafe drivers access to a vehicle.

If you believe that negligent entrustment may be relevant in your accident case, it is important that you contact a skilled St. Louis car accident lawyer right away. The personal injury lawyers of Burger Law have won countless car accident claims and recovered millions of dollars for our clients. We have the expertise needed to represent and win some of the most challenging and complicated car accident cases, including cases of negligent entrustment. Contact us today to speak with an attorney for free about your case by calling 314-542-2222.

What is Negligent Entrustment?

At one point or another, we have all probably either had someone else drive our vehicle or we have driven a vehicle belonging to someone else. There is nothing peculiar about the practice. Whether you are borrowing your coworker's car to assist you in moving or you allow your teenage daughter to use your car to meet up with friends, it is typically an uneventful and simple exchange. Consider, though, what would happen if the driver got into an accident in the owner's vehicle. Who would be responsible?

When a driver causes an accident and injures others while driving another person's car, negligent entrustment may dictate who is liable to cover the damages of the injured parties. Negligent entrustment is a type of tort of negligence. It is a legal provision that says that an owner of an item (such as a car) can be held responsible for the damage caused, even when someone else was operating the item.

Negligent Entrustment in Missouri

There are specific criteria for negligent entrustment. The owner of the vehicle cannot be held responsible for the damage that occurs when their vehicle was stolen or was operated without their permission. As the victim of a car accident, if the driver who caused you injury did not own the vehicle, you may have a claim against the owner rather than the driver. In order to have a negligent entrustment claim in Missouri, the following must be true:

  1. The owner of the vehicle knowingly entrusted the vehicle to the driver
  2. The driver was inexperienced, incompetent, reckless, or otherwise unfit to safely operate the vehicle
  3. The owner knew or had reason to believe that the driver was likely unable to operate the vehicle safely
  4. The driver, and his or her ability to use the vehicle, put others in harm
  5. The victim was injured, and their injuries were caused by the actions of the driver

Though the law lays out these explicit requirements for a negligent entrustment case, there is still some ambiguity, as there always is. For example, how could the owner know that the driver would not be able to operate the vehicle safely? And what does the law consider inexperience, incompetence, recklessness?

Each case varies depending on the history of the driver and the surrounding circumstances. Some characteristics and conditions that are commonly considered to make a driver unfit are:

  • Intoxication or under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • A history of driving under the influence
  • Advanced age that makes it difficult for the driver to drive safely
  • Inexperience
  • Illness that affects the driver's ability to drive, perceive obstacles, make decisions, etc.
  • A history of reckless driving
  • No licensing, such as someone who is underage or whose driver's license has been revoked or suspended

Negligent Entrustment Lawyer St. Louis | Burger Law

You deserve a law firm that is dedicated to your complete recovery. The St. Louis car accident lawyers of Burger Law do not rest until our work is complete. We fight for you and demand the compensation that is fair. Find out how we can help you in your car accident case of negligent entrustment by speaking to us about your case for free today. Reach us now at 314-542-2222 or online.