The Concept of Negligent Entrustment Under Maryland Law

Negligent entrustment is defined under Maryland law as supplying a “chattel” directly or through a third person for another person’s use who the supplier knows or should know will use it in a way that involves an unreasonable risk of physical harm to himself and others. The supplier is subject to liability for the physical harm resulting from the supplier’s negligent entrustment. In short, the supplier may be held liable because the supplier is or should be aware of the danger of entrusting the chattel to someone and aware of the foreseeability of harm.

A “chattel” is defined as personal property (not real property) that can be moved or transferred. Under Maryland law, the elements of negligent entrustment are: (1) the supplier makes available a chattel to another person; (2) the supplier knows or should have known the receiver is likely to use the chattel in a manner involving risk of physical harm to others, and; (3) the supplier should expect others to be put in danger by its use. Maryland courts have explained that the supplier may need to inquire further in some cases, and the supplier may be liable in cases where the supplier failed to make a reasonable investigation.

Court Considers Viability of Negligent Entrustment Claim Where Employer is Vicariously Liable

In a recent case, one state’s supreme court considered whether a claim of negligent entrustment could proceed where the employer conceded it would be liable if the employee were found negligent. In that case, a man was hit and killed by a truck while crossing the street. The man’s estate filed a wrongful death suit against the driver of the truck and his employer. The defendant employer argued that the negligence claim against the truck driver, for which the employer could be held liable, negated the claim of negligent entrustment.

Under that state’s law, in the negligent entrustment claim, the plaintiff had to show that the supplier actually knew the person they allowed to use their property was incompetent or reckless, and the negligence of the person entrusted was foreseeable to the supplier. The court held that in cases where the employer concedes that it will be vicariously liable, the jury would still have to apportion fault according to state law and that a jury could still assign fault to the employer based on its own negligence. The court explained that the employer’s acts in negligently entrusting, hiring, training, supervising, and retaining an employee are separate acts from the acts of the employee, for which the employer might also be liable. Thus, the negligent entrustment claim was a separate theory of recovery and was not duplicative.

Call a Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer

Accident victims may be able to bring a Maryland truck accident claim against at-fault parties. The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have more than 20 years of experience assisting Baltimore residents pursue personal injury claims. As a result of their dedication and zeal, they have achieved many successes for their clients. They proudly serve the legal needs of Maryland and Washington, D.C. residents in a variety of injury cases. To set up a free, no-obligation consultation, call them at (800) 654-1949 or contact them online.

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