Is the vehicle owner liable for loaning the vehicle to the person who caused my accident?

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If the driver who caused your accident was driving a borrowed car, determining who is responsible for covering the cost of your injuries is not always straightforward. It is often the driver himself, although in some cases you may be able to find the vehicle owner liable, thanks to a concept known as negligent entrustment.

If you suffered serious injuries after an accident with a borrowed car, a Kirkland car accident attorney can ensure you target the proper party. Call Max Meyers Law PLLC today for a free case evaluation: 425-399-7000.

What is negligent entrustment?

Negligent entrustment occurs when the owner of a vehicle loans it to an irresponsible party who any person exercising a normal level of caution would recognize as a risk to the safety of others on the road. For example, if a vehicle owner loans his car to someone without ensuring the driver borrowing the vehicle has a valid license, a clear driving record, and is sober, he may be liable for any accidents the driver causes. 

What does the Washington State laws say about these accidents?

Under RCW § 4.04[5], any damage done by a reckless or incompetent driver piloting a borrowed vehicle may fall on the shoulders of the car’s owner if any reasonable person could have recognized the danger the driver posed to others.

In other words, if the car owner should have foreseen the accident or other issues stemming from driver negligence, the car owner is liable for injuries sustained in your crash.

When is the car owner responsible?

Under the concept of negligent entrustment, the car owner is liable when:

  • The driver was incompetent
  • The owner knew he was incompetent
  • The owner loaned him the car despite knowing this
  • The driver was negligent, causing the crash and your injuries

For example, if a vehicle owner knows that the driver has had a few drinks but still loans the car to him, he will be liable if that driver causes an accident. On the other hand, if the driver hid his drinking and the owner never knew that he was intoxicated, the owner may not be liable.

The owner may also be liable if he loans his car to someone with a known history of aggressive driving and accidents.

Max Meyers Law PLLC helps Washington State car accident victims file insurance claims, negotiate settlements, and pursue other legal options when necessary to ensure clients get the compensation they need. If you have medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages or other accident-related expenses, we can help you get money to pay for these damages. Contact us today at 425-399-7000 to learn more.
Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.