When your friend with the bad driving record asks to borrow your car, a recent judge’s ruling should make you think twice before turning over the keys. Virginia courts have long allowed lawsuits to be brought against the owner of a vehicle, even when that person was not behind the wheel when the accident occurred. Traditionally, these “negligent entrustment” lawsuits were only allowed when the vehicle’s owner allowed a person he knew to be physically or mentally impaired to drive. However, a Rockingham County judge has recently allowed one such negligent entrustment suit to be brought where the only “impairment” of the driver was his propensity for dangerous highway antics.
In this case the owner of the vehicle sat idly by in the passenger seat, while the driver continuously swerved off the road, tailgated other drivers, and drove the car into the oncoming lane. By allowing the driver to continue these “road games” in his vehicle, the owner opened himself up to a large wrongful death suit when the driver eventually crossed the center line, killing an oncoming driver.
So, if you have a friend who you know to be a reckless driver, take a minute to think about your potential liability before allowing him to get behind the wheel of your car. If his reckless driving ends up causing someone else’s injuries, it could be you sitting in the defendant’s chair, with your assets on the line.
If you have been harmed by the negligence or fault of a company whose employee or agent caused you injury, e-mail or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. (703-796-9555) at once, as negligent entrustment claims require extra preparation and proof.