Tort law governs car accidents in Illinois, which means accident victims can file a claim against a negligent party to obtain financial compensation. Usually, the negligent party is someone at the accident scene, but that is not always the case.
In some instances, the negligent party could be someone else entirely that was not directly involved in the crash. This is often the case when someone has allowed another person to drive their vehicle, knowing the driver is careless or reckless when on the road. This is known as negligent entrustment of a vehicle in Illinois, and our car accident lawyer explains this type of tort in further detail below.
Contact Jerome, Salmi & Kopis, LLC today to talk with a lawyer who can help you through the process.
Proving Negligent Entrustment
The law in Illinois allows accident victims to not only file a claim against negligent drivers but also the owner of the vehicle, if that is a different person and the owner negligently entrusted their vehicle to another person. It is sometimes challenging to determine when a person has the right to file a negligent entrustment tort. To determine if you have a valid claim, it can help to consider what you will have to prove in your case. To prove negligent entrustment, you must establish the following two elements:
- The owner of the vehicle has the superior right of control over the vehicle involved in a collision. To prove this, you must show that the owner of the vehicle has the authority to give permission to another person to operate the vehicle.
- The owner of the vehicle knew, or should have known, the driver was likely to use the vehicle in such a manner that it would pose a danger to others on the road.
Proving negligent entrustment is not always easy because you must show the vehicle owner knew of the potential for danger. An Illinois car accident lawyer can help you establish all elements of your case so you collect the full damages you deserve.
Examples of Negligent Entrustment
The concept of negligent entrustment is not as straightforward as other types of negligence, but some basic examples can help one understand it. One example is if John asked his friend, Bill, to use his car. Bill agrees, even though he knows John has a previous DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol). If John became intoxicated again and got behind the wheel of Bill’s car and caused an accident, Bill could be held liable for the crash. This is due to the fact that Bill knew of John’s prior DUI, and so he should recognize the potential for it to happen again and not give John permission to use the vehicle.
Another example of negligent entrustment is when the owner of a vehicle allows an inexperienced person to operate it. For example, Sue’s 14-year-old daughter, Beth, may want to drive the vehicle while she and her mom are on a quiet country road. Sue may agree, thinking there is no one around, so it is going to be okay. If Beth is involved in an accident, Sue could be held liable because she should have known that a 14-year-old does not have the skill, knowledge, or experience to safely operate a vehicle.
One of the most common examples of negligent entrustment is when an employer allows an employee to use the company vehicle. If the employer knew the employee had a bad driving record and they allowed them to use the company vehicle anyway, that could establish negligent entrustment.
It is important to note in employment situations, negligent entrustment differs from vicarious liability. Vicarious liability refers to accident victims holding employers liable for damages after an accident, regardless of the employer’s knowledge of the employee or their behavior. When filing a negligent entrustment claim, accident victims must prove the employer knew the worker would act negligently.
How Can a Lawyer Help with Your Negligent Entrustment Claim?
It is always recommended you work with a car accident lawyer after any crash, but it is particularly important when filing a negligent entrustment claim. Negligent entrustment cases are considered third party claims because they are filed against a party that was not even at the accident scene. Proving these claims is particularly difficult.
An Illinois car accident lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation to determine if the negligent driver owned the vehicle they were driving. During the investigation, a lawyer will also collect important evidence to prove that the negligent driver caused the crash that resulted in injury.
A lawyer will also help you identify all the liable parties you can file a claim against. You may file a claim against the owner of the vehicle, and the driver that was behind the wheel at the time. Filing multiple claims can help you obtain even more in damages, so they fully cover the cost of your injuries.
Insurance companies are often hesitant to pay out on claims, particularly when the injuries are very serious and an accident victim is pursuing maximum damages. Insurers, unfortunately, prioritize their profits over the health and well-being of accident victims. A lawyer will negotiate with the insurer effectively so that you receive the full and fair settlement you deserve.
Lastly, if the insurer or at-fault party refuses to provide fair damages, a lawyer will also represent you at trial. Only a small minority of car accident claims go to trial, but it can be an intimidating process for those that have never been through it. A lawyer will have the necessary experience to represent you and give you the best chance of a positive outcome.
Call Our Car Accident Lawyer in Illinois Today
If you believe you have a negligent entrustment claim, do not file it on your own. At the Law Office of Jerome Salmi Kopis, our skilled Illinois car accident lawyer will handle every aspect of your claim so you can focus on getting better. Call us today at (618) 726-2222 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.