One of the first considerations in a Texas car accident case is which of the parties involved should be named as defendants. This is an important decision for several reasons. First, failing to name a potentially liable party could result in the named defendants shifting blame onto the unnamed party. Second, given the low insurance requirements in Texas, an accident victim can very easily sustain more serious injuries than can be recovered under a single insurance policy.
Of course, only parties that were potentially negligent can be named in a Texas personal injury case. However, it is a common misconception that the at-fault driver is the only negligent party. In many cases, an at-fault driver was not the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident and was permitted to use the vehicle by a friend, family member, or employer. This is where the doctrine of negligent entrustment comes in.
The doctrine of negligent entrustment allows an injury victim to hold the owner of a vehicle liable for negligently allowing another person to use the vehicle. Under Texas case law, a plaintiff must be able to establish:
- The owner entrusted the vehicle to the driver;
- The driver was unlicensed, reckless, or incompetent;
- The owner knew the driver was unlicensed, reckless, or incompetent;
- The driver was negligent; and
- The driver’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries.