11/26/2012 5:05 AM

Negligent Entrustment

Employers have a responsibility to know if a person has something in their driving record that can create risk to others.  Negligent entrustment is when a company knows or should have known that they put an unsafe driver behind the wheel of a company car. 

Injury caused by the driver must have several elements proven in order to establish a lawsuit for negligent entrustment.
~The owner of the company knew the driver
~The driver  was unlicensed or incompetent, and the owner was aware of it.
~The driver was negligent in operation of the vehicle, and his negligence resulted in damages.

A driver may be incompetent if he or she is intoxicated, unlicensed, inexperienced, or has a record of reckless driving.  Some examples include:
~Not have a drivers' license or driving with a suspended license.
~Not having a CDL (Commercial Driver's License) when it is required.
~No experience in operating a specific kind of vehicle.
~The driver's motor vehicle record has several violations.

Some organizations use the FMCSR (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations) in order to establish competency for drivers.  FMCSR is increasingly used to measure the qualifications of an individual when driving is a regular part of his or her job.  The requirements are that a driver must:
~Have a valid driver's license.
~Be physically capable of driving a vehicle.
~Read and speak English
~Through experience and training, operate a vehicle safely and determine if cargo is securely loaded.

The investigation of negligent entrustment charges focuses upon two main issues; the company policies and actual practices.  Your fleet management program must be documented and followed.  The areas that your company's program should include are:
~Driver selection procedures.
~New employee orientation and training.
~Ongoing driver training.
~Policies that limit driver distractions.
~Drug and alcohol testing.
~Following local, state, and federal laws.
~Disciplinary procedures for violations.


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