When driving in, you should always exercise the utmost caution when operating your vehicle. When driving someone else’s car after they lend it to you, however, you should be extra careful—especially because if the vehicle gets damaged or you hurt someone in a Georgia car accident, you and the vehicle’s owner could be held responsible. The same principle applies to employers. If an employer lends a vehicle or gives control of a vehicle it owns to an employee with a demonstrated history of incompetence or other issues involving safely operating cars, the employer and the driver operating the car could be liable.
In a recent Supreme Court of Georgia decision, the court considered a negligent entrustment issue. According to the facts of the case, while attempting to cross the street, the decedent was struck and killed by a truck. The executor of the decedent’s estate subsequently brought a wrongful death and personal injury action against the defendants, the driver of the truck and his employer. Following the trial, the jury found the defendants 50 percent at fault, and the deceased 50 percent at fault, which meant the executor on the deceased’s estate was barred from collecting damages on behalf of the deceased’s estate. The executor appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to the defendant on its claims on negligent entrustment. The appellate court affirmed the lower court’s opinion, and the Georgia Supreme Court assessed the claim. The court ultimately reversed the lower court’s decision because the law that the lower court relied on to affirm the trial court’s decision was abrogated.
In Georgia, when considering negligent entrustment of a vehicle by an employer to an employee, liability is determined based on the negligent act of the owner lending his vehicle to another to drive with actual knowledge that the driver is incompetent or habitually reckless. An individual can be deemed unfit to safely operate a vehicle because of physical or mental impairment, a lack of experience, or age. If a driver does not have a valid driver’s license for the particular vehicle they are operating, the driver is also considered automatically incompetent under Georgia law.
To succeed in a negligent entrustment claim in Georgia, the injured party must prove a few elements. First, the plaintiffs must establish that the party responsible for entrusting the vehicle to the incompetent driver owned or exercised control over the car. Second, the injured party must prove that the vehicle’s driver was incompetent and unable to operate the vehicle safely. Third, plaintiffs must show that the party who entrusted the vehicle to the incompetent driver had actual knowledge that the driver was incompetent. And last, the plaintiff must provide evidence that the incompetent driver proximately caused the crash where the plaintiff was injured or killed.
Do You Need a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney?
If you or someone you know has been recently injured in a Georgia car accident, contact the attorneys at McAleer Law today. The lawyers on our team have represented Georgia clients on a variety of personal injury matters and have years of experience navigating the legal system. We can help you pursue a claim for financial compensation against those responsible for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation today, contact us at 404-622-5377.