Drivers in Durham and Raleigh likely understand that every time they take to the area’s roads, they run the risk of being involved in a car accident (indeed, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, there were 275,067 crashes reported in the state in 2017). Yet most drivers likely believe themselves to be safe from any potential collisions given that they assume that most other motorists take as much care to avoid accidents altogether. That assumption, however, may not always prove to be true.
When one is involved in a collision caused by a driver that has a documented history of poor or reckless driving (or whose lack of experience behind the wheel makes them a greater risk to others), they may question whether it is possible to hold the person who entrusted the driver with a vehicle responsible for their accident. The legal principle of negligent entrustment does indeed allow for this, as it is meant to serve as a reminder to vehicle owners that they should exercise care when loaning out their cars to others.
However, simply because a driver caused an accident in a vehicle that did not belong to them does not mean that negligent entrustment applies to their case. Rather, per North Carolina state law, accident victims must prove the following:
- That the driver had a history of driving incompetence, carelessness or frequent intoxication
- That the owner knew (or had reason to believe) of the driver’s issues
- The driver’s reckless actions were the proximate cause of the accident
Cases where a driver took a vehicle without the owner’s permission would not qualify for third-party liability under this standard.