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Irwin Law
Irwin Law, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Lawyer & Real Estate Broker, 30+ years, foreclosure, land contracts, inheritance, probate.
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For Joseph: An uninsured vehicle crashed into my yard causing

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For Joseph:
An uninsured vehicle crashed into my yard causing over $1,000 damages to brick ledgework landscaping and plants. The owner of the vehicle went to court and pled guilty for having no insurance and was fined $545. He was not the driver of the vehicle however. Can I still sue him in small claims court for the damages because he and/or his significant other negligently entrusted the vehicle to an individual? The owner says they do not know who the driver was, but that makes no sense. It was not stolen nor was it reported stolen. The vehicle was involved in a drug deal gone bad and in leaving the scene at a high rate of speed crashed into my yard. The driver took off and abandoned the car in my yard. Cocaine was discovered in the car. I think the owner, even though not the driver should pay damages for negligently entrusting the car to another individual.

You will have to prove that the owner was negligent in entrusting the person who drove the car. You will have to present evidence that the owner: 1) knew the driver and knew he was a habitually careless driver, or was on drugs or alcohol, and who was likely to cause damage by driving his car.

The damage to your yard doesn't count for that. You will have to prove other incidents involving that same individual. If you can't do that, you don't have a very good chance of winning your case.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The owner of the vehicle has past convictions for 2 DUI's, 2 Operating Vehicle without insurance, speeding, seat belt violations, no registration and 2 failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. He isn't identifying the driver because there were illegal drugs found in his vehicle, cocaine. There is a witness that stated he spoke to the driver just after the wreck and before he ran off and abandoned the car. The witness stated the inside of the vehicle smelled like marijuana. Again, the owner won't give the name of the individual that the car was loaned to.
Do you think this would be enough to find the owner guilty of negligent entrustment?

I think you might be able to make a prima facie case for small claims court case of negligent entrustment, but it is a stretch. As a practical matter, my experience in cases like this is that neither the owner nor the doofus he loaned his car to is going to be able to pay for your damages, and win or lose in court, collection of any money from those types of people is doubtful. Sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news, and I hope you don't "shoot the messenger" with your rating.

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