Court Allows Negligent Entrustment Claim to Proceed Against Employer that Allowed an Employee to Use a Company Vehicle for Personal Use

Earlier last month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a car accident case that was brought by a man who was injured by a drunk driver who had been given permission to use a truck owned by the company for which he worked. The injured motorist filed a lawsuit against the drunk driver as well as the driver’s employer under the theory of negligent entrustment. Ultimately, the court reversed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer, finding that sufficient evidence was presented to show that the employer may have known about the employee’s previous DUI convictions.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident when he was struck by a drunk driver. At the time of the accident, the drunk driver was operating a moving truck that belonged to his employer. While the employer’s general rule was not to allow employees to use company vehicles for personal use, the employee did obtain permission.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against both the driver and his employer. During pre-trial discovery, the plaintiff became aware that the driver had a prior criminal record, including four DUIs and a charge for possession of cocaine. The plaintiff argued that the driver’s employer was negligent in allowing the employee to use the car, given this information, which was available to the employer.

The employee testified that during a pre-employment interview, he was honest with the employer and would have disclosed the fact that he had a “checkered past” and that his license had been suspended a number of times. The employee did not recall if he told the interviewers that he had been convicted four times of driving under the influence, but he was certain that he provided them with at least some indication he had a prior history of DUI.

The employer’s representative testified that they conducted a criminal history check for the employee and that it came back clean. However, it only looked back for a period of three years. There was no evidence that the employer pulled the employee’s driving record prior to hiring him.

The trial court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment, finding that there was insufficient evidence showing that the employer knew of the employee’s driving history. However, on appeal, the case was reversed. The appellate court explained that the employee’s testimony that he did tell the employer of his “multiple DUIs” was enough to put the employer on notice of his driving record. The fact that the employee couldn’t remember exactly what he told the employer during the interview was not important; what he did tell them was sufficient to put them on notice.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Drunk Driving Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, there may be multiple potentially liable parties. However, without an in-depth investigation, the facts giving rise to this potential liability may not be uncovered. To learn more about Maryland drunk driving cases, and to discuss your case with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney, call 410-654-3600. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Court Discusses the Superior/Equal Knowledge Doctrine in Recent Personal Injury Case, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published February 2, 2017.

An Attorney’s Role in Ensuring a Personal Injury Verdict Is Not Unfairly Reduced, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published January 17, 2017.

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