Austin, TX asked in Car Accidents, Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death for Texas

Q: Is a person liable for anything if they give a known alcoholic a car and they kill someone?

Person has been to rehab and sober houses 30 plus times that i know of.

2 Lawyer Answers
John Wesley Urquhart
John Wesley Urquhart
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Conroe, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: Not necessarily just because the driver is a known alcoholic, but whether the driver is known to the owner of the vehicle as an incompetent or reckless driver and there is a record to prove it. Of course alcohol could play a big part of that, but it's a case by case fact intensive analysis. I would need more facts of course to determine whether I think a judge or jury would find the owner of a vehicle liable in a scenario like this. What you're referring to is called negligent entrustment. Under the doctrine of negligent entrustment, the owner of a vehicle who knowingly allows an unlicensed, incompetent, or reckless driver to operate the vehicle is liable for an injury caused by the driver. The owner is held liable for the owner’s own negligence in entrusting the vehicle rather than for the negligence of the driver. A plaintiff would have to prove to the judge or jury the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence to find the owner liable: (1) entrustment of a vehicle by the owner; (2) to an unlicensed, incompetent, or reckless driver; (3) who the owner knew or should have known to be unlicensed, incompetent, or reckless; (4) who was negligent on the occasion in question; (5) and whose negligence proximately caused the accident. Again, alcohol could play a big part in the driver being known to the owner as an incompetent and/or reckless driver. However, being an alcoholic alone is not sufficient to establish liability.

Of course, there are many different fact scenarious that could lead to no liability on the part of owner or liability of other potential defendants. Sometimes a bar can be held liable if certain criteria are established under the Texas Dram Shop Act.

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Wyomissing, PA

A: you should contact a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Assn for the County where the wreck happened. Possible there could also be a case against the car manufacturer, or others, so look for an attorney who also handles product liability litigation. They give free consultations.

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