“Negligent entrustment” is a form of “vicarious liability” in Nevada under which a defendant can be held liable for the wrongful acts of another person. It applies when the defendant has entrusted an object to someone too inexperienced or incompetent to handle it safely.
Examples of negligent entrustment include:
- Allowing your minor child to drive your car without supervision, or
- Letting a drunk friend borrow your gun.
To help you better understand Nevada's law on negligent entrustment, our Nevada personal injury lawyers discuss, below:
- 1. The elements of negligent entrustment in Nevada
- 2. Negligent entrustment in Nevada accident cases
- 3. When negligent entrustment does not apply
In Nevada, the elements for a claim of negligent entrustment are:
- The defendant left a potentially dangerous object, such as an automobile or firearm, in the care of another person;
- The defendant knew or should have known that the person was inexperienced and/or incompetent to use the object in a safe fashion;
- The person entrusted with the object used it negligently and thereby harmed another; and
- As a result of the other person's actions, the plaintiff suffered damages.1
In Nevada, negligent entrustment commonly arises in motor vehicle accident cases. Often it is when a plaintiff has been injured by a minor child driving his parent's car, truck or motorcycle.
The entrusting person need not have known that child would drive on a public roadway. In fact, the parent may even have expressly instructed the child not to drive on a public road.
The key elements are whether an entrustment actually occurred and whether that entrustment was negligent.2
Negligent entrustment does not apply if entrusting the other person with the object was not negligent.
Example: George rents a car while on vacation in Nevada. On renting the vehicle, George presents the rental clerk with a valid driver's license containing his picture and showing him to be 28 years of age.
While driving the rental car, George speeds through a red light and causes a car accident in which Harry suffers a spinal injury. Harry's medical bills from the accident total $50,000. He also misses a week of work and has lost wages of $1,000. His car repair bills come to $9,000.
George's car insurance has liability limits of $30,000 and property damage of $15,000, not enough to cover his out-of-pocket compensatory damages of $60,000, let alone leave him anything for pain and suffering. So Harry decides to sue the rental car company under a theory of negligent entrustment.
However, the car company was not negligent in entrusting the vehicle to George. Harry's choices are:
- Accept the $45,000 insurance limit in full settlement of his claim,
- Sue George personally for the extra money he needs, or
- Find another theory for holding the rental company liable (which would most likely prove difficult).
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If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident or by a wrongful act in Las Vegas, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.
Our Las Vegas injury and accident attorneys have a great deal of experience holding defendants liable under various theories of liability. Best of all, if we take your case we won't take a dime until you win it or reach an out-of-court settlement.
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- See, e.g., Zugel v. Miller, 100 Nev. 525, 688 P.2d 310 (1984); 7A Am.Jur.2d Automobiles and Highway Traffic 643-45 (1980).
- Zugel v. Miller, endnote 1.