ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Avoid a Negligent Entrustment Lawsuit

Updated on November 18, 2009
A result of negligence
A result of negligence

Negligent entrustment involves allowing someone (for our purposes an employee) to use potentially dangerous equipment, such as a motor vehicle, when that person is not qualified or has a history of misusing the equipment. “Not qualified” can include factors such as youth or inexperience; an employee’s reputation or known history of misuse of the equipment; or an employee’s lack of physical or mental qualifications to operate the equipment. Negligent entrustment may also be proven if the employer did not know about the employee’s reputation or history, but this information was easily obtained if the employer did a reasonable search. For example: if a trucking company hires a driver without running his DMV record, and the driver has a history of reckless driving and causes personal injury to another, the trucking company may be liable for negligent entrustment because it allowed the driver to operate its truck.

Employers found guilty of negligent entrustment may liable for the total cost of damages caused by a negligent driver PLUS punitive damages.  Punitive damages are imposed as a way to punish or deter a person or business from continuing their negligent behavior.  Juries have a reputation for awarding punitive damages that far exceed the costs of the injured parties, especially if personal injuries are involved.  We all hear of cases where people are awarded millions of dollars because the jury believes a business owner was negligent.  Punitive damages often exceed the $1 million insurance limits and can easily bankrupt a company and put them out of business.  I had one client, a “mom and pop” grocery store, which allowed a 17-year old boy use of their van to deliver groceries.  They boy had only been driving for three months.  He ran a red light and broadsided another vehicle, killing a 5-year old girl.  The girl’s family won a multi-million dollar personal injury settlement and the grocery owners were financially ruined.

A party injured by a negligent driver must generally prove that the driver’s employer knew, or should have known, that the driver was incompetent or reckless.  Consequently, by performing some due diligence and enforcing a few common sense policies, employers should be able to avoid negligent entrustment lawsuits.

Establish Hiring Criteria

As an employer you should have a written policy that establishes the specific criteria for an acceptable motor vehicle (MV) record.  For example, it might state no driver will be hired if he/she has a citation for DWI or reckless driving; and no driver shall be hired with two or more moving violations on record.  You must be sure to enforce the criteria equally; making exceptions could weaken your case by making it appear you were deliberately negligent.

Conduct a Thorough Pre-Employment Investigation

Run the DMV records of all employee candidates who will be required to drive as part of their official duties, and review this record before the employee is hired. Require references from prior employers and document your conversations and findings after checking them. You may also consider running criminal background checks and credit history checks. A history of bad credit often indicates a history of irresponsibility. Do you want an irresponsible person driving your 34,000-pound semi-truck? Do not hire a driver unless her/she has an acceptable driving record; then run their record at least annually afterwards.

You should also run MV records on any employee whose primary duties do not include driving but may occasionally drive a company vehicle or a personal vehicle while on company business. Apply the same criteria to them as you do to your professional drivers. I had a client whose bookkeeper drove her car to deposit the daily receipts at the bank. One day she made an illegal left turn and hit a bicyclist, severely injuring him. During discovery the defendant’s attorney learned the bookkeeper was driving with a suspended license for multiple DWI violations. Even though she was driving her own car, my client had the deep pockets and paid the eventual personal injury settlement.

Enroll Employees in a "Pull Notice" Program

Many state Department of Motor Vehicles offer a “pull notice” program that automatically notifies employers, generally within two weeks, if any violations are reported to an employee’s driving record.  A report on each enrolled employee is sent annually regardless of any activity.   This is very cheap insurance for any employer who has a fair number of employee drivers, and is a much better practice then running motor vehicles records once a year.  You should also, at least annually, visually inspect and make a copy of each employee’s driver’s license for their personnel file.

Teens often lack good judgment
Teens often lack good judgment

Establish an Employee Only Rule

Some employers let employees take company owned vehicles home with them to use for commuting and other personal business.  If you have done your due diligence on the employee, this practice is acceptable.  If employee spouses are allowed to operate company vehicles, then include them in the MV record checks.  Just ensure you have, and enforce, a written prohibition on any other family member using the vehicle– especially teenage children or young adults under 25.   Younger drivers often lack the maturity, judgment, skill, training, and focus to operate vehicles safely.  

Keep Documentation

You should retain all documents relating to your due diligence efforts including MR reports, “pull notice” reports, employee background and references checks, copies of driver’s licenses, disciplinary or warning notices for driving violations, and training records.

Remember the costs of negligent entrustment can include punitive damages and prison time.   It can cost you your business and your livelihood. 


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      4 years ago

      A perfect reply! Thanks for taking the trloube.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi Dwaye,There's a lot of value with your videos. Great job of linayg out the core concepts of keyword research. People that need to learn more about these concepts are sure to benefit from this high value lesson!All the best,Jim Jinright


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)