Gary Bell & Brad Pollock
Can you be held liable for the acts of someone else driving your vehicle? The short answer is: YES!
Ordinarily an owner of a motor vehicle is not liable for the driver’s negligence but, liability will be imposed for negligently entrusting the vehicle to an infant, mental incompetent, a known reckless individual or one who is intoxicated.
The Colorado Supreme Court confirmed the doctrine of negligent entrustment in the case of Bolt v. Cowan, 829 P.2d (Colo. 1992), requiring three evidentiary elements to establish a claim; 1) a supplier permitting a third party to use a thing or engage in an activity; 2) which is under the control/right to control of the supplier; and 3) the supplier giving permission either knowing or having reason to know that the party intends or is likely to use a thing in such a manner as to create an unreasonable risk of harms to others. In other words, if you allow someone to drive your vehicle and you have reason to know the driver may be a risk of harm to others you could be held liable. In order to prevail on a claim for negligent entrustment it is necessary to produce evidence that the owner knew or had reason to know that the driver would likely use the vehicle in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical harm to others.
For practical purposes, it is strongly suggested that prior to loaning a vehicle to another individual, the owner should exercise extreme caution and diligence to assure the driver does not have some sort of predisposition to operate the loaned vehicle in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical harm to others. The failure of the owner to exercise reasonable care and caution prior to loaning the vehicle to another could result in the owner of the vehicle being held directly liable for the driver’s negligence due to the owner’s own negligent entrustment. Other examples of risk may, depending on the circumstances, include: 1) entrusting a car to an inexperienced driver; 2) lending a car to a driver who has alcohol or drug problems; or 3) lending a car to a driver whose license is known by the owner to be revoked for reckless driving.
If you have been hurt in any type of auto crash, you can find out more about your rights and options for recovery by calling a Denver car accident attorney at Bell & Pollock, P.C. Call (303) 795-5900 or email our firm using the contact form on this page to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our lawyers