What is negligent entrustment?

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As the parent of a teenager just learning to drive in South Carolina, you recognize the importance of your teen gaining experience behind the wheel. Such experience will help them in avoiding so many of the dangerous driving practices that statistics show they and their peers seem likely to engage in.

Yet it is during those first few months and years in which they strive to become experienced drivers that can create cause for concern. You likely understand that should they cause an accident, you (as their parent) will assume some degree of responsibility. Yet how far does that actually go?

Third-party liability in car accidents

If and when your child causes a car accident, the expectation is that your auto insurance will cover the accompanying expenses. Yet depending on the severity of the collision (and the amount of the resulting expenses), compensation through insurance coverage may not be enough. Given that your teen likely lacks the financial resources to assist an accident victim in affording their expenses, said victims may look to you for compensation.

The legal principle of negligent entrustment allows for just that. You may not view you allowing your teen to use your vehicle as negligence, yet when applying this principle to car accidents, local state law looks to the precedent established in Section 308 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts. This principle (as cited in similar cases) states that it is negligence to allow one use of something from which such use (due to the actor) is likely to put others at risk.

The standard for negligent entrustment in South Carolina

Yet your teen simply causing an accident with your vehicle may not be enough to cite negligent entrustment. Local state court rulings show that you must knowingly entrust the vehicle to them (which might exclude cases where they took the car without your permission).

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