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Negligent Entrustment Lawyers in Philadelphia

Involved in an Auto Accident Caused by the Negligent Entrustment of a Vehicle in Pennsylvania? We Can Help

When a driver causes a car crash and someone suffers an injury as a result, the at-fault party can be required to compensate the victim. According to Pennsylvania law, however, at-fault drivers are not the only individuals who can be held accountable for injuries caused by their actions.

This is because under the legal theory of negligent entrustment, a car’s owner can be sued for loaning his or her car to a negligent or reckless driver if that driver caused a car accident.

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Owner Liability in Negligent Entrustment Cases

In Pennsylvania, when car owners lend their vehicles to another driver, they can be held legally responsible for any ensuing accidents.

However, to be found liable, the injured party must establish specific facts, including that:

  • The car’s owner permitted another person to operate the vehicle;
  • The driver was unfit to operate the vehicle;
  • The car’s owner knew or should have known that the driver was not fit to drive;
  • The driver was negligent; and
  • The driver’s negligence caused an accident that resulted in injuries.

Once a plaintiff has established that a car’s owner either expressly or impliedly entrusted the vehicle to the at-fault party, he or she must demonstrate that the owner knew or should have known that the driver was unfit.

To satisfy the definition of unfit, a driver must usually:

  • Be intoxicated;
  • Unlicensed;
  • Underage;
  • Inexperienced;
  • Elderly;
  • Ill or disabled; or
  • Someone with a record of driving recklessly.

It can sometimes be difficult to establish that an owner knew or should have known that a driver posed an unreasonable risk of harm to others. However, courts will take into consideration the driver’s immediate appearance or conduct at the time of the interaction when determining an owner’s liability.

For instance, if a car’s owner witnessed the driver drinking, slurring his or her words or walking unsteadily, he or she would have notice that the driver posed a risk to others and could also be held liable for a victim’s damages.

The courts have consistently stated, though, that having a generalized knowledge of inexperience or previous erratic driving is not enough to impute responsibility to the car’s owner.

Similarly, mere knowledge of a child’s reckless disposition will not make a car’s owner liable for an accident caused by his or her child unless there is evidence that the parents had actual knowledge that their child was intoxicated or intended to drive erratically.

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  • Unrivaled Record of SuccessWe have won tens of millions of dollars for injured victims, and have achieved countless "not guilty" verdicts for clients faced with criminal charges.
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  • Personalized RepresentationWe understand that every case is unique. Therefore, we tailor our approach based on the facts of the case and the needs of our client.
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  • Holistic ApproachNot only do we want to excel legally for the client, but we also want to make sure we are strengthening their mind, body and spirt.
  • Supporting the CommunityOur team engages in many community events and regularly donates time and resources to many charitable organizations in Philadelphia.

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Home to Philadelphia’s most accomplished attorneys, van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim pairs diverse practice experience with a passion-driven, comprehensive law practice—all for the client’s benefit.

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