After a car accident in Torrance, your hope is that the auto insurance provider of the driver that hit you will help cover the subsequent costs. Receiving such assistance may become more complicated, however, if you find out that the person responsible for your accident was not in their own vehicle at the time.

Not only might that call insurance coverage into question, but you may also need more compensation than an insurance company might pay anyway. Many in this situation have come to us here at the Law Offices of Kenechi R. Agu worried that they have no legal recourse. That is not the case.

Assigning third-party liability

You might hope that a vehicle owner would exercise caution in who they would loan their car to. The legal principle of negligent entrustment assigns liability to them for failing to do just that. Basically it states that a person is liable when loaning their vehicle to a person who then causes an accident with it. This might hold true both in the case of insurance coverage as well as direct compensation. The purpose is to deter people from loaning vehicles to those whose driving tendencies might place other drivers on the road at risk.

California’s negligent entrustment elements

This raises the question of exactly when is negligent entrustment applicable. California’s Civil Jury Instructions clarify this point. You must prove the following five elements:

  • That the driver was negligent in their operation of the vehicle
  • That the driver has the vehicle with its owner’s permission
  • That the owner knew (or should have known) that the driver was unfit to drive
  • That the owner still allowed the driver to use the vehicle
  • That the driver’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing you harm

More information on assigning liability for an accident is available throughout our site.