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What is negligent entrustment?

A car accident in Brooklyn can result in you having to deal with a mountain of unanticipated expenses. The prospects of being able to successfully manage such costs may seem to go down if the driver that hit you reveals that they were not using their own vehicle. Oftentimes, when one is not in their own car, it signifies that they may lack the purchasing power to buy one. If that is the case, the chances of you recovering any compensation from them may be slim. The next inevitable question then is whether you can hold the vehicle's owner liable? 

You may have heard of the legal concept of negligent entrustment. This principle allows you to assign vicarious liability to a vehicle owner for car accidents and the damage their vehicle causes while being operated by another. This makes sense from the standpoint that people are typically responsible for any damages related to their property. Yet in many states, the law requires an element of knowledge to be present in order to apply negligent entrustment to a case. It must be proven that the driver involved has displayed negligent or incompetent tendencies behind the wheel, and that the vehicle owner knew of such tendencies and allowed them to use the vehicle anyway. 

In New York, however, such is distinction is not required. According to Section 388 of the state's Vehicle and Traffic Law, vehicle owners are liable anytime the negligent use of their cars or trucks causes damage or injuries, regardless of who is operating them. Thus, in your case, you may be able to pursue action against the owner even if they had no reason to believe the person they loaned their vehicles to would be negligent in their operation. 

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