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What is Negligent Entrustment?

Under the law, “entrustment” can occur when a person gives, lends, or sells an item to someone else.

Although entrustment contains the word “trust,” a person can be liable for negligent entrustment whether or not (s)he actually trusted the person to whom the item was loaned, given, or sold.

Legally, a person can be held liable for negligent entrustment if (s)he gives, lends, or sells a potentially dangerous item (such as a gun, a motor vehicle, or a variety of other items) to someone else under circumstances where the person receiving the item (or being allowed to use it) was unfit or unsafe to use it. Generally speaking, people who own or have control over certain kinds of dangerous items have a duty to ensure that anyone to whom they give, sell, or grant the right to use the item is properly qualified and responsible enough to use the item without creating an unreasonable risk of harm to others.

Employers may be held liable for negligent entrustment if they entrust the use of dangerous tools to an untrained or improperly-qualified employee. However, negligent entrustment is not an appropriate cause of action where the employer is already responsible for the damage or injury caused by the employee’s actions under a different legal theory: respondeat superior. Plaintiffs who can recover damages under respondeat superior cannot “double dip” with a claim of negligent entrustment.

Before you allow someone else to use your property, or sell (or gift) a dangerous item like a gun or an automobile to someone else, consult an attorney to ensure that your actions will not expose you to potential liability for negligent entrustment. Otherwise, if the recipient (or borrower) of the item injures someone, you may find yourself accused of negligence.

Many people are not aware of negligent entrustment, or that allowing someone to borrow an automobile or other item can create unwanted liability. Investigate your rights and obligations thoroughly – and never rely on this or any other online article to evaluate your potential rights and legal obligations. Always obtain a personalized consultation from an experienced attorney.

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Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR AND ANY PERSON. Your rights and experiences may vary. Never use an online article (including this one) to evaluate your legal claims. Speak with an experienced lawyer promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, possible damages, and options. You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Negligence claims are complicated and fact-dependent. If you believe you have a claim against someone who injured you, a lawyer who represented you in a previous lawsuit, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your personal rights and claims.

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