Lawsuits stemming from automobile accidents in Washington and around the country are generally filed against the negligent drivers involved or their insurance companies, but there are situations where litigation may be initiated against a party not directly involved. The legal principles of negligent entrustment and vicarious liability allow those who have been injured in a motor vehicle accident to sue the owners of vehicles in certain situations.
The owners of vehicles involved in traffic accidents may be sued when they allowed an individual to drive their car, truck or SUV who was likely unable to drive safely. Examples of negligent entrustment include vehicle owners handing over their car keys to an obviously intoxicated individual and parents who allow a child with only rudimentary driving skills to operate a powerful vehicle unsupervised. Employers may also face lawsuits when employees are involved in accidents while driving company vehicles. However, this liability is generally limited to accidents that occur while employees are performing work-related duties.