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Can a plaintiff bring two independent claims against a defendant for permissive use and negligent entrustment?

San Francisco, CA |

In California, if a parent allows their minor child to use their car and their child gets into an accident while driving recklessly and under the influence can the plaintiff bring two individual claims against the parents/insured for permissive and negligent entrustment? Is there any case law and/or statutes that deals with this issue?

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Attorney answers 4


Yes, permissive use and negligent entrustment are separate bases for liability. Under the permissive use statute, Vehicle Code §17150, et seq., as the owner of the vehicle who gave permission to your child and assuming your child's negligence caused the collision, you have liability for bodily injury that is capped at $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident, and $5,000 per person for property damage.

Negligent entrustment is a separate cause of action and the damaged person must prove that you knew or had reason to know that your child was a dangerous driver, for instance if you handed the keys to your child knowing he/she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Fremont Compensation Insurance Co. v. Hartnett (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 669, 675-676, 23 Cal.Rptr.2d 567. There is no cap on damages if you are determined to have independent negligence.

Good luck.

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Does this apply to cases involving minors? In Fremont Compensation Ins. v. Hartnett, the children were adults (25 years).

S. David Rosenthal Esquire

S. David Rosenthal Esquire


If you are asking whether the fact that the person you entrusted your vehicle to was a minor is a factor that would excuse the entrustment or mitigate liability, the answer is no. You can be held for negligent entrustment for giving your car to a minor who is a dangerous driver.


Theoretically the answer is "Yes". However, if you are trying to collect from the parent you might want to check how coverage can be afforded when a minor child operates the vehicle.
You might want to check the policy for exclusions. Better you discuss it with a personal injury lawyer.


Attorney Rosenthal provides a sound answer to your question. There would be two separate causes of action for your claim against the parents. One is statutory in nature and has distinct limitations on the amounts that may be recovered. The other is based upon the specific facts of the incident and has no limit.

The effective presentation of the facts will be critical to your prevailing on either cause. I would suggest that you utilize Avvo to contact a personal Injury attorney in your area so as to better represent your interests and maximize your potential for any recovery

The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, to be construed as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


This is entirely legal and appropriate.

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