18 Feb Virginia Car Accidents: Negligent Entrustment – a Lawyer’s Advice
Virginia jurisprudence holds that an owner may be liable for “negligent entrustment” by permitting an unfit driver to use his vehicle if it causes a vehicle accident. “The correct test of liability is whether the owner knew, or had reasonable cause to know, that he was entrusting his car to an unfit driver likely to cause injury to others.” Denby v. Davis, 212 Va. 836, 838 (1972).
In Denby, weak, though not inherently incredible, testimony was “sufficient to show that Denby turned over his car to Pretlow with reason to know that Pretlow would use it and with knowledge that Pretlow had no operator’s permit and was physically unfit to drive an automobile without endangering himself and others [because of his impaired vision]”. Id. at 839. By its verdict for the plaintiff, the jury impliedly found that both Pretlow’s impaired vision and Denby’s negligent entrustment were proximate causes of the accident.Id.
The Virginia Supreme Court found sufficient evidence and jury instructions to uphold the jury verdict. Hence the vehicle owner was held liable for the wrongful death resulting from the vehicle accident in Denby.