Park Ridge Man Sues Driver, Car Owners for Hit and Run

Ever let your kid borrow the car? How about your spacey brother-in-law or a less-than-responsible friend? If so, did you know that you could be held liable for any damage or injuries they cause while driving it?

Martin Nicholson and Joy Mason are learning that lesson the hard way, after loaning their car to Sean Nicholson, the Chicago Tribune reports. Last year, Nicholson reportedly hit Matthew Conrardy, a pedestrian, while driving the borrowed car. On Monday, Conrardy filed a personal injury suit in Cook County Circuit Court against not only Sean, but Martin and Joy as well.

According to the lawsuit, Nicholson and three friends were parked in front of Conrardy’s Park Ridge home on Nov. 22. Conrardy became suspicious of the car and went outside to investigate.

When Conrardy stepped in front of the car, however, Sean allegedly put the car in gear and accelerated into Conrardy, throwing him onto the hood. Sean then drove off and fled the scene, flinging Conrardy off the car and into the street, the lawsuit states.

Now Conrardy is seeking compensation for his injuries. The lawsuit contends that Sean was negligent in pulling out and driving off while Conrardy was standing in front of the car. Conrardy also claims that Martin Nicholson and Joy Mason were negligent in entrusting the vehicle “to a person they knew or should have known would hit another person.”

A person who entrusts another person with a dangerous instrumentality, like a car, can be held liable for injuries caused to a third party through the use of the instrumentality under a theory of negligent entrustment. Generally, it must be shown that the entrustor knew the entrustee to be a particularly reckless or unsafe driver.

Negligent entrustment cases usually involve parents loaning the car to an inexperienced young driver. While the Tribune didn’t go into the specifics of the entrustment claim, Martin Nicholson could very well be Sean Nicholson’s dad. If Matthew Conrardy can show that Sean had a reputation as a terrible driver, he may be able to recover from Martin and Joy Mason.

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