Civil Litigation
Experience and Results
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Texas Negligent Entrustment

©2014 Mark Courtois

Negligent entrustment is a theory of liability complaining about the entrustment of a car or some other dangerous device that has been involved in an incident causing injuries to the plaintiff.  While this is usually thought of in the context of entrustment of a motor vehicle, entrustment theories have also been applied in other situations.  For example, at least two Texas appellate courts have recognized claims for negligent entrustment of a firearm. Prather v. Brandt, 981 S.W.2d 801, 806 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1998, pet. denied); Kennedy v. Baird, 682 S.W.2d 377, 378-79 (Tex. App.--El Paso 1984, no writ).  Liability based on entrustment theories may also extend to any person who entrusts to another, any chattel or instrument knowing that the other person, due to youth, inexperience, or other factors, is likely to use the chattel in a manner involving an unreasonable risk of harm to that person or other persons. See Prather at 806 (citing Restatement of Torts (Second) § 390 (1965)).  For example, a parent may be held liable for injuries arising out entrusting an instrument to a child, which because of the child's youth or inexperience may be dangerous. Rodriguez v. Spencer, 902 S.W.2d 37, 42 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist] 1995, no writ). The elements as discussed below are also applicable to an entrustment claim involving a firearm. Prather at 806.

The elements of a negligent entrustment claim are: 1) the entrustment of a vehicle by the owner; 2) to an unlicensed, incompetent, or reckless driver; 3) that the owner knew or should have known to be unlicensed, incompetent, or reckless; and 4) the driver was negligent on the occasion in question and; and 5) the driver's negligence proximately caused the accident and plaintiff's injuries. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Mayes, 236 S.W.3d 754, 758 (Tex. 2007); Schneider v. Esperanza Transmission Co., 744 S.W.2d 595, 596 (Tex. 1987); Williams v. Steves Indus., Inc., 699 S.W.2d 570, 571 (Tex. 1985).