PERSONAL INJURY I CAR ACCIDENTS I DAMAGES – Negligent Entrustment: People whom Negligently Entrust their Vehicles to others May Be Liable for Damages

PERSONAL INJURY I CAR ACCIDENTS I DAMAGES – Negligent Entrustment: People whom Negligently Entrust their Vehicles to others May Be Liable for Damages

November 05, 2019

Individuals whom entrust their vehicles to others whom they know are unfit to drive may be liable for compensatory damages under the legal theory of “negligent entrustment”.  Specific examples of negligent entrustment include: entrustment to an intoxicated person, entrusting a vehicle to an unlicensed driver, and/or negligent entrustment to a known driver with a revoked license.

Liability under the theory of negligent entrustment is based on general negligence principles, and is imposed on the vehicle owner due to their own independent negligence.  This is a separate cause of action for negligence against the vehicle owner, and is exclusively distinct from the negligent driver.

Negligent entrustment is codified in jury instruction CACI 724: “Negligent Entrustment of Motor Vehicle”.  Cited authority for the jury instruction includes the precedent caseFlores v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car:

“[I]t is generally recognized that one who places or entrusts his [or her] motor vehicle in the hands of one whom he [or she] knows, or from the circumstances is charged with knowing, is incompetent or unfit to drive, may be held liable for an injury inflicted by the use made thereof by that driver, provided the plaintiff can establish that the injury complained of was proximately caused by the driver’s disqualification, incompetency, inexperience or recklessness . . . .” ’ ” (Flores v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co. (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 1055, 1063 [116 Cal.Rptr.3d 71].)

Negligent entrustment falls under general negligence.  Our “California Common Causes of Action” chart which includes “negligent torts”; along with our “California Personal Injury Damages” chart discussing “compensatory damages” are both included below:

  California Common Causes of Action
Intentional Torts Assault: The imminent fear for one’s well-being

Battery: Unauthorized touching of a person

Misrepresentation: Deceit; deliberately misleading another

Conversion: Unauthorized transfer of money or property

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress: Doing mental or psychological harm by act or by omission

Defamation, Libel, and Slander: Damage to a party’s reputation, image or standing in the community

Wrongful Imprisonment (or False Imprisonment): Restriction of an individual’s freedom of movement, physically or mentally

Malicious Prosecution and Abuse of Process: Forcing a party to defend him or herself against baseless prosecution

Trespass and Nuisance (these are environmental torts): Unwarranted and unauthorized entry onto property, or devaluing the enjoyment of property due to the intrusive acts of another

Negligent Torts Negligence: Establishment of a duty, followed by a breach of that duty, and an establishment of damages. (For compensation to be awarded, it must be established that the negligence was the proximate cause of the damages.)

Negligence per se: Negligence while violating the law

Wrongful Death: Death caused by another’s negligence

Contracts Breach of Contract: Failure to fulfill certain written or oral commitments

Bad Faith: Entering into an agreement with no intention of fulfilling obligations

Breach of Fiduciary Duty: Failing to act in the best financial interest of a party when there exists an obligation to do so


Type of Damages  
Special Compensatory Damages/ Economic Damages


Special damages are unique to the individual plaintiff and vary significantly from one plaintiff to the next. An award for special damages compensate a plaintiff for costs and expenses incurred as a result of the incident or accident that caused their injuries.


Common types of special damages:

·       loss of earnings

·       property damage

·       loss of future earnings

·       past medical expenses

·       cost for future medical care

·       cost of household expenses

·       reimbursement for cancelled trips or altered plans

General Compensatory Damages/Noneconomic Damages General damages compensate a plaintiff for non-monetary damages incurred in a personal injury claim. Common types of general damages:

·       physical pain

·       loss of enjoyment of life

·       anxiety/humiliation

·       emotional distress

·       mental anguish,

·       pain and suffering,

·       loss of enjoyment

·       loss of consortium or companionship

Punitive Damages Punitive damages are only awarded to an injured plaintiff when the defendant’s conduct was despicable or reprehensible.  Punitive damages are designed to punish a wrongdoer for the wrongful conduct and discourage similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages are awarded when the defendant engaged in malicious, oppressive or fraudulent conduct.

·       Malice: means that the defendant acted with intent to cause injury or with willful and knowing disregard of the rights and safety of another.

·       Oppression: means the defendant’s conduct was despicable and the plaintiff was subject to cruel and unjust hardship in knowing disregard of their rights

·       Fraud: means the defendant intentionally misrepresented or concealed a material fact and did so intending to harm the plaintiff

If you have any questions about your personal injury case or inquiries regarding negligence and/or resulting damages, we invite you to call us today at 619-432-5145 for a free consultation with one of our experienced negligence attorneys or pain and suffering lawyers.


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