Under Indiana law, the theory of Negligent Entrustment allows for an injured party to recover from the owner of a vehicle who negligently allowed another person to use the vehicle. Negligent entrustment is a cause of action, which allows for the recovery of damages when an individual entrusts another individual with an instrument, being fully aware that individual cannot handle said instrument. Negligent entrustment typically occurs in auto claims.
Indiana Negligent Entrustment
As a negligent entrustment claim allows for the injured party to hold a third party (the vehicle’s owner) liable for the negligent actions of another party (the driver), it is also a form of vicarious liability. In order to prove a claim of negligent entrustment, a plaintiff must prove the following:
- An entrustment occurred between the owner of the vehicle and the individual trusted to operate the vehicle with care;
- The individual operating the vehicle is incapacitated or incapable of using due care;
- With actual and specific knowledge that the person is incapacitated or incapable of using due care at the time of the entrustment;
- Proximate cause; and,
Often, these cases hinge on whether the defendant had actual and specific knowledge of the incapacity of the negligent party. Indiana Courts have held that is not enough that the owner of the vehicle knew the driver was irresponsible or even reckless in the past. To prevail, the plaintiff must show the owner knew the driver was unfit at the time of entrustment. It is also not sufficient to show that the negligent party did not have a valid driver’s license to prove the owner’s knowledge of incapacity. Proving a negligent entrustment claim requires an attorney familiar with these nuances. Consult with one of our subrogation lawyers early in your claim to maximize your chances of recovery.