Negligent Entrustment: What You Need to Know When Someone Else Drives Your Automobile in Massachusetts

Negligent EntrustmentYou may be the safest driver you know. Perhaps you always drive the speed limit, never drive even after one drink or after taking certain medication, and always obey the laws. However, when it comes to car accidents and negligence you can be held liable even if someone else was driving your car.

There are different instances where even if you were not the driver you may be at fault if there is an accident. Here are a few of the situations where the liability may fall on your shoulders if there is an accident involving your vehicle.

  • Children. Your children driving your car carries more responsibility than just higher insurance rates. In fact, Massachusetts holds parents responsible for any accident that occurs where your minor child is at fault or negligent. One of these rules falls under what is called negligent entrustment, which means that if you know that your child is unable to drive safely for any reason, you are at fault. With the family purpose doctrine, the family’s general-use car is the car owner’s responsibility and if it is involved in an accident, the owner is liable even if he or she was not driving. In fact, some states even hold a parent liable if they are the one that signed a minor’s driver’s license application and that minor is involved in an accident.
  • Employees. Even though an employee may be the driver in an accident, the owner of the vehicle is the one responsible if the driver is in the process of performing his work tasks.
  • Someone You Loaned Your Car. No matter who borrows your car, if you know they are impaired in any way, you may be liable for any damage done if they are involved in an accident. Impairments such as intoxication, drowsiness, certain medications and overall lack of ability to drive safely falls under this example. This also falls under negligent entrustment so it is important to know that the person driving your vehicle can do so in a safe manner.

It is imperative to know your responsibilities as a vehicle owner. Some people may not realize that they are held responsible in the case of an accident where they were not even present. Always be sure anyone that drives your car is competent, safe and not impaired in any way.