Under New York law, any owner of any vehicle used or operated within the state is responsible for property damage, injury, or death resulting from the negligent use of that vehicle. This includes property damage, injury, or death caused by the owner’s negligent use of the vehicle or the negligence of another person who has the owner’s “express or implied” permission to use the vehicle.
This doctrine of “negligent entrustment” allows car accident victims to hold auto owners liable for the actions of others who are allowed to use their vehicles. This means if you were injured in a crash caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you may be able to claim compensation from the owner’s insurance policy.
The majority of negligent entrustment cases involve motor vehicle accidents, but other dangerous objects can also be the basis of a negligent entrustment claim. Firearms, power tools, knives, and other weapons or objects that can easily cause harm could all be the subject of such a claim.
Who Is Responsible?
To prove a negligent entrustment claim, you must be able to demonstrate that the driver or product user was negligent and that the owner of the vehicle or product knew or should have known that the user was unfit to drive or use the object.
You must also be able to show that the driver or user who caused your injury had express or implied permission from the owner. An example of express permission would be verbal or written authorization to use the vehicle or object. Implied permission might look like previous conduct that suggested the user was allowed to use the vehicle or object.
Parents of teenage drivers are frequently responsible in negligent entrustment cases involving motor vehicle accidents. If a parent or other family member allows anyone else to drive their car, even when they know the driver has bad habits or limited experience, the vehicle owner can be on the hook for damages caused by the inexperienced driver.
Employers can also be held responsible for the negligence of employees who cause accidents while driving company cars, engaging in work-related duties, or using other company equipment.
Importantly, negligent entrustment and vicarious liability may still apply even when family members or employees use their family’s or employer’s vehicles without the direct knowledge or consent of the owners.
Compensation You Could Recover
With a successful negligent entrustment claim, you could recover compensation for your losses from the owner of the vehicle or product involved in the incident. The owner may be legally responsible for:
- Previous and ongoing medical expenses related to your injuries
- The projected costs of future care you will likely need
- Out-of-pocket costs you paid for incidental expenses, such as costs of transportation to and from medical appointments
- Lost wages, if your injuries prevent you from returning to work
- Lost earning potential, if you suffer a long-term disability
- The subjective costs of the pain and suffering from your injuries
How a Lawyer Could Help
Because negligent entrustment cases may involve multiple layers of liability, they tend to be especially complex. An attorney can help you establish and organize a strong claim by:
- Evaluating the details of your case and explaining your legal rights
- Independently and thoroughly investigating the accident to uncover evidence
- Communicating with other parties and attorneys on your behalf
- Managing important documents, deadlines, and details, so you don’t have to
- Estimating the value of your claim and negotiating to maximize your settlement
- Representing you at trial, if the other parties refuse to negotiate fairly
At The Mandel Law Firm, we take a personalized approach to every case we handle. No matter how complicated or difficult your New York negligent entrustment claim, we have what it takes to help you seek justice and fair compensation.
To learn more about what our New York personal injury attorneys can do to support you as you get back on your feet, call us at (646) 779-1441 or contact us online today for a free initial case review.