Negligent Entrustment

Many car accident injury cases are caused by unlicensed drivers or dangerous drivers. Some parents let their unlicensed teenagers drive their cars. Some people will give the keys to their car to someone they know is intoxicated or under the influence of illicit drugs or even legal drugs but the type of medication where the person should not be driving. Some drivers get access to vehicles even though they are dangerous drivers. 

Texas law allows people who are injured in car accidents by unlicensed or dangerous drivers to make a claim against the owner of the vehicle for negligent entrustment of their vehicle in these cases. 

Unlicensed Drivers 

Proving a driver is unlicensed is fairly straightforward. Either they have a valid drivers license or they do not. If they are not licensed and they are driving someone else's vehicle and cause an auto accident then there is likely a claim against the owner of the vehicle for negligently entrusting their vehicle to this unlicensed driver. 

How do you prove a driver is reckless or incompetent? 

Texas law states that in order to prove negligent entrustment the determination of whether driver is reckless or incompetent is made at the time of the entrustment. Huynh v. R. Warehousing & Port Servs., 973 S.W 2d 375, 378 (Tex. App. - Tyler 1998, no pet.). For example, if at the time the vehicle was entrusted to the other person, if that person was intoxicated, then the person who gave them access to the vehicle has negligently entrusted that vehicle to that driver. 

Determining whether a person is a reckless or incompetent driver is done on a case by case basis. Again, an intoxicated person is clearly a reckless or incompetent driver. Their driving record, the condition of the driver, and the situation all are factors to consider in determining whether a driver is reckless or incompetent. Zamora v. Dairyland, 930 S.W.2d 739 (Tex. App. - Corpus Christi 1996, writ denied). 

How is entrustment proven? 

If a driver reasonably believes they have permission to drive a vehicle then that person is considered a permissive user in Texas. United State Fire Ins. v. USAA, 772 S.W.2d 218 (Tex. App. - Dallas 1989, writ denied). If a driver reasonably thinks they have permission, then regardless of what the owner says afterwards the law considers them to have been given permission to drive the vehicle. 


Car accident injury lawyer Doug Goyen has represented thousands of people in car wreck injury cases and obtained millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts on behalf of his clients. If you have been injured in an auto accident where someone negligently entrusted their vehicle to an unlicensed or dangerous driver, we can get you the compensation you deserve. Call today for a free case review. Call us at (972) 599 4100, or contact us on our website contact form. There is no fee unless you win.