Are Your Fleet Safety Policies Enough?


How Negligent Entrustment Creates Liability For Your Ministry

Any company can be held liable for negligence because they allowed an employee to drive on ministry business, when the ministry had knowledge that the driver intends, or is likely, to drive in a manner as to create unreasonable risk. Employers have the responsibility to know if a person driving has something in their driving history that may create risk or harm to others. The risk can occur in a church owned vehicle, or a personally owned vehicle if on ministry business, it does not matter.

Legal Theory

The legal issue is that all ministries have a duty to know the driving qualifications of all drivers, and take any action necessary to limit risks to third parties. These kinds of claims can also lead to punitive damage awards. While many states limit punitive damages, federal courts do not.

How Auto Insurance Applies

Many auto insurance policies exclude claims of negligent entrustment. Yet, even with coverage you may not have enough insurance if one of your employees is involved in a harmful accident. All insurers are expecting that your ministry understand this issue and have a plan in place.

Examples of Negligent Entrustment

  1. An employee or volunteer drove a personal car to drop off the day’s mail and ran a red light causing an accident. The employee had no insurance or license. The churchcould be held liable for the accident under negligent entrustment.
  2. A church hired a driver without completing any driving background check. The employee’s job was to drive delivery trucks. The driver showed up to work drunk and during the day killed two people in an accident. After an investigation, the driver had two other DUI” on their driving record. This is a negligent entrustment issue.

How To Reduce Your Risk

  • Annually review the driving records of all those with permission to drive on church business.
  • Provide driver training to all authorized drivers.
  • Have all safety policies in writing.
  • Follow all local, state, and federal laws.
  • Develop post-accident review and training procedures

You cannot guarantee that your drivers will never be in an accident, so the next best thing is to protect the ministry from lawsuits that could follow an incident with its drivers. The right training and screening procedures can help minimize the legal liability for negligent entrustment.

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