Many in Bozeman may joke about how you will need to watch out once their teens start driving. While the notion of reckless teenage drivers is often presented as a joke, many of those that we here at Cok Kinzler PLLP have worked with may have firsthand experience of the risks that newly licensed drivers pose. If you have been involved in an accident that was caused by a teen, then you could potentially be placed in the position of having to hold him or her legally responsible. Yet does the legal liability for your accident only extend to the teen, or can it also be applied to his or her parents?
The principle of negligent entrustment is outlined in Section 308 of the Restatement Second of Torts. Basically, it states that if one grants another access to an instrument or device knowing that person’s negligent use of if it could cause harm to others, then he or she may held liable for the user’s actions. Negligent entrustment may often be brought up in cases involving teen drivers due to the fact that only their parents may have the means through which accident victims can may recover any type of compensation.
However, negligent entrustment is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. The Montana Supreme Court established the method of application of this doctrine in its ruling in the 2011 case of Styren Farms, Inc. vs Roos. It states that three elements must be proven in order to apply:
- A parent is aware of his or her ability to control his or her teen’s actions.
- The parent recognizes the need to do so.
- The parent’s failure to act on this need placed you and others at risk.
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