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.
A recent case illustrates how courts apply the negligent entrustment doctrine.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was killed after a truck driver made an improper turn in front of the plaintiff’s car. In a post-accident investigation, it was discovered that the truck driver was under the influence of prescribed medication. The medication was prescribed after the driver was involved in a workplace accident. The driver obtained workers’ compensation after the accident.
The plaintiff claimed that the driver’s employer was liable for driver’s negligence under the theory of negligent entrustment. The plaintiff argued that the employer knew or should have known that the driver was taking the medication because the driver’s injuries were the result of an on-the-job injury for which the driver obtained workers’ compensation. The plaintiff argued that allowing the driver to operate a large truck despite this knowledge was negligent. The court agreed that the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to present the claim to a jury, and allowed the plaintiff’s case to proceed.
Have you Been Injured in a Texas Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Texas car accident, consider calling the dedicated San Antonio personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Carabin Shaw. At Carabin Shaw we have extensive experience representing Texas personal injury victims in all types of claims, including Texas negligent entrustment claims. To learn more about how we can help you recover for your injuries, call 800-862-1260 to schedule a free consultation today.
Court Holds Judges Should Watch Video Evidence Before Ruling on Its Admissibility, Texas Injury Lawyers Blog, April 30, 2018
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Court Finds State Liable for Injuries Caused by Drop-off on Road’s Edge, Texas Injury Lawyers Blog, October 19, 2018