The act of teenagers borrowing the family car can be considered a rite of passage in many American families. Most of the time this happens, the result is harmless. But on occasion something can go terribly wrong and an accident ensues that harms others. In such instances, the question can come up whether those who actually owned the car were negligent in allowing another person to drive it. This question comes under the legal theory known as "negligent entrustment."
In Georgia, courts have defined negligent entrustment of a motor vehicle to be when an automobile owner lends his or her car to another person (it does not have to be a family member) to someone whom he or she knows (that is, has actual knowledge) is incompetent to drive or is otherwise habitually reckless. The negligence on the part of the vehicle owner in lending it to someone who should not be driving it must in turn be a "concurring proximate cause" of the accident in addition to any negligence or other wrongful conduct on the part of the driver. If this linkage can be established, then the owner of the vehicle can also be held responsible for any injury or property damage that results from an accident.