Nevada has long recognized the tort of “negligent entrustment”. Take the case of Zugel v. Miller, 100 Nev. 525, 688 P.2d 310 (1984) for example. In that case a 13-year-old bought a motorcycle. The boy had no driver’s license. He took a friend for a ride on a public highway. The boy admitted that he rode his motorcycle on the public roads all the time. The boy and his passenger were hurt when the motorcycle ran a stop sign and it collided with another vehicle.
The Plaintiffs sued the parents for negligently entrusting the motorcycle to the son. The Nevada Supreme court explained the theory.
A second possible theory of liability in this case is that of “negligent entrustment” of a motor vehicle. Under this doctrine, a person who knowingly entrusts a vehicle to an inexperienced or incompetent person, such as a minor child unlicensed to drive a motor vehicle, may be found liable for damages resulting thereby. See, e.g., McCart v. Muir, 641 P.2d 384 (Kan. 1982); Sedlacek v. Ahrens, 530 P.2d 424 (Mont. 1974); see also Connell v. Carl’s Air Conditioning, 97 Nev. 436, 634 P.2d 673 (1981) (doctrine of negligent entrustment held not to apply under particular facts of case). See generally 7A Am.Jur.2d Automobiles and Highway Traffic §§ 643-45 (1980).
100 Nev. 527-28.
The Supreme Court went on to say that even though the parents had told the boy not to drive the roads, the parents still could be liable under a theory of negligent entrustment. “The key elements are whether an entrustment actually occurred, and whether the entrustment was negligent.” Id at 528.
As discussed HERE, there may be strategic reasons why a party may choose to admit that he or she is vicariously liable for the torts of another and thereby attempt to avoid have the negligent entrustment causes of action dismissed. Be sure to consider the advice of your attorney when deciding to take such a serious step.
If you have questions about a claim for negligent entrustment, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will do my best to get your questions answered.