Massachusetts Court Discusses Negligent Entrustment Claims

It is not unusual for people to lend their cars to acquaintances or family members. However, what appears to be a simple favor might unwittingly expose someone to liability. To put it another way, if the person renting the car is later involved in a collision, the vehicle’s owner may be held accountable for negligent entrustment. However, as a recent Massachusetts case indicated, simply lending a person an automobile is insufficient to establish a negligent entrustment claim. You may be able to pursue claims against various parties if you were hurt in a car accident caused by a motorist who was driving a rented car, and you should consult with a qualified Massachusetts personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your possibilities.

The Subject Accident

The plaintiff was in a car collision with the defendant driver, according to the evidence. She was seriously injured in the collision, and she eventually filed a case against the defendant driver and the owner of the car she was driving at the time of the crash, who happened to be her father-in-law. The plaintiff brought a negligent entrustment suit against the defendant owner, claiming that he either knew or reasonably should have known she couldn’t drive safely. The defendant owner then filed a move for summary judgment, saying that the plaintiff’s negligent entrustment claim would be impossible to prove and, as a result, should be dismissed.

Proving a Claim of Negligent Entrustment

There are three aspects to negligent entrustment in Massachusetts. To begin, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the owner of a vehicle rented it to someone who was unsuitable or unqualified to drive, and that the person’s incompetence caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff must then establish that the owner gave the person authorization to operate the car, either generally or specifically. Finally, the plaintiff must show that the owner had real knowledge of the driver’s incapacity.

The defendant maintained that the plaintiff could not fairly expect to prove negligent entrustment in the matter at hand. However, the court stated that a poor driving record combined with a substantial record of lawless behavior or recklessness might be used to infer a driver’s incompetence. The plaintiff stated that the evidence showed the defendant’s record plainly proved a pattern of negligence, as she had been involved in two to three earlier incidents prior to the subject collision. She also testified that she told the defendant owner of the vehicle that it was too big for her on several occasions. The court refused the defendant’s request based on the preceding.

Meet with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer on Cape Cod

Car accidents can result in long-term and painful injuries, and in many situations, more than one party is to blame for the victim’s suffering. It is in your best interest to meet with a lawyer if you have been hurt in a car accident. The capable attorneys at The Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III can advise you on your legal choices, and if you choose us to represent you, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. To schedule a meeting, please fill out our online form or call us at 888-262-6664.

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