The expenses that can result from an auto accident in Houston can often be enormous. You may take comfort in the idea that the at-fault driver’s insurance will cover those expenses, yet what if it turns out that the driver was not driving their own vehicle. If they were not covered by the vehicle owner’s insurance policy, the insurer may deny coverage. What are you to do then? You could try to recover the costs of your own insurer, yet what if your expenses exceed coverage limits? Is there a way to hold the person who entrusted the driver that hit you responsible? 

Indeed there is, thanks to the legal principle of negligent entrustment. This principle assigns vicarious liability to owners for allowing others to use their vehicles when evidence exists that the drivers they are entrusting with their cars may be present an increased risk of causing an accident. Ultimately, this is meant to place an added degree of accountable in the monitoring of potentially unsafe drivers. 

Higher court rulings in Texas have established the standard for the state’s application of negligent entrustment in car accident cases. To hold the vehicle owner liable, you must prove the following: 

  • They did indeed entrust the vehicle to the driver
  • The driver was unlicensed, incompetent or reckless
  • The vehicle owner knew (or should have known) of the driver’s issues
  • The driver was negligent in causing your accident
  • Their negligence was the proximate cause of the harm you suffered

Notice that it must be shown that the vehicle owner knowingly loaned the driver their vehicle. This excludes this principle from being applied in cases where the driver took the vehicle without permission.