Negligent Entrustment

Georgia Allows Claims of “Negligent Entrustment”
Against Owners of Automobiles

In Georgia, a person or business may be held liable for another person’s injury or death where that person or business was negligent in loaning or entrusting a motor vehicle to a driver despite knowing that the driver was incompetent or unfit to operate the vehicle safely. A person can be deemed unfit to safely operate a car, truck or motorcycle by reason of his age or lack of experience, a physical or mental impairment, and/or a known history of habitual reckless driving. Additionally, in Georgia, a driver is automatically considered incompetent if that driver does not possess a valid driver’s license for the type of motor vehicle which he attempts to operate. Therefore, by statute (O.C.G.A. § 40-5-122), a person in Georgia is prohibited from knowingly entrusting a vehicle to a driver who does not possess a valid driver’s license.

The Elements of a Negligent Entrustment Claim Under Georgia Law

In order to succeed on a negligent entrustment claim, an injured motorist or pedestrian must prove four elements: (1) that the person accused of negligently “entrusting” a vehicle to an unsafe or incompetent driver either owned or had control over that vehicle; (2) that the driver to whom the automobile was entrusted was incompetent and unfit to drive the vehicle safely; (3) that the defendant had actual knowledge that the person to whom he entrusted his vehicle was incompetent, unfit or incapable of safely driving the vehicle; and (4) that the incompetent driver proximately caused the collision in which the plaintiff was injured or his family member was killed.

Application of Negligent Entrustment in a Civil Drunk Driving Case

Negligent entrustment claims have often been advanced by victims of drunk driving. Clearly, intoxication can constitute a physical impairment which will support a claim of negligent entrustment. Thus, where someone loans or otherwise “entrusts” his motor vehicle to a driver he knows to be intoxicated, the former can be held liable for injuries to or the death of a person in a crash caused by the impaired driver. Similarly, Georgia law also recognizes that a negligent entrustment claim will arise where the person accused of negligently entrusting a motor vehicle knew that the driver had a record of habitually reckless driving, including driving under the influence of alcohol. Even if the driver is not intoxicated at the time he gains control of the vehicle, a negligent entrustment can still be advanced if the owner knew the driver had a significant history of drunk driving.

Georgia Car Accident Lawyer

Attorneys at Ragland Law Firm, LLC have experience with asserting claims of negligent entrustment against vehicle owners who provided a car or truck to an impaired or unsafe driver.  We have filed and handled personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia where claims of negligent entrustment were asserted against the owner of the vehicle which caused the automobile accident. If you are the victim of a drunk driving crash, you should contact us to see whether you have a viable negligent entrustment claim against the owner of the at-fault vehicle.