Q The 17 year old driver whose car struckmy carhad been involved in an auto accident just three months before. Are his parent's responsible for my injuries, too?
The parent who co-signs for a probationary license is jointly liable with the child for the child's negligence in operating a car, but this joint liability is not applicable if the parent buys liability insurance company for the child that is in compliance with state minimums. If the parent is the owner of the car, there is the possibility of a claim of negligent entrustment. Under negligent entrustment, Ohio law holds the owner of a car responsible for the negligence of another driver of that car, if the owner was negligent in allowing the other person to drive the car in the first place. Under this theory, an owner is liable when the owner entrusts the vehicle to someone so lacking in competency and skill as to convert the vehicle into a dangerous instrumentality. This theory is applied in cases where the driver has a record of multiple traffic accidents or offenses, in cases where the person does not have a driver's license, or in cases where the owner should know that the driver is impaired.
The fact that a person has had one prior auto accident is probably not enough to demonstrate that the driver was so incompetent that the vehicle became a dangerous instrumentality when the driver got behind the wheel.