Can I Sue A Business if Their Employee Injured Me in a Car Accident?
When another driver causes an accident that results in your injury, it is common knowledge that you are entitled to pursue legal action against them. What if that driver was in a company vehicle? In certain situations, you have the right to seek compensation from their employer as well. This is through a legal theory known as vicarious liability.
The idea of vicarious liability is straightforward. If an employee of a company injures you while they are working, you could pursue damages from both parties. This is valuable, as companies are more likely to have robust insurance coverage compared to their drivers. A car accident attorney in New York could advise you if this legal theory could apply in your accident.
Understanding vicarious liability
The central point to these claims is whether or not a driver was working within the scope of their employment. When it comes to traffic accidents, scope of employment relates to the driver’s reasons for operating their vehicle at the time of the accident. For example, if they were actively carrying out their normal job duties, they are likely within the scope of their duties– a delivery driver dropping off a sample product likely applies. A person driving home at the end of the day while still in a company car likely does not.
However, a driver making a “detour” during a work-related trip might not be covered by vicarious liability. For example, a person leaving their normal route to pick up their personal dry cleaning– could be found to have been on a detour. This would mean the employer might not face civil liability for the accident.
Other grounds for suing the company
There are some other limited situations where you can sue the company even if vicarious liability does not apply. This would involve negligent acts of the company— for example, improper care of the vehicle. If poor maintenance is to blame for the crash, the company could be on the hook for any damages that occur.
In addition, every company has a responsibility to hire candidates that will not put the public at risk. You could sue a company if they were negligent in hiring a delivery person who was not properly vetted. Upon investigation, they lack a valid license or have a lengthy history of vehicle collisions.
Discuss your options with an experienced attorney
Regardless of the legal theory, taking on the employer of a negligent driver is commonplace following an accident. While most drivers have their own insurance, the policies provided by the employer are often much more robust. When these policies have higher limits, they often result in bigger settlement checks for a plaintiff.
If you are considering a lawsuit after an accident and you are curious if you can include the driver’s employer in the claim, Douglas & London can help. Our team of litigators has extensive experience pursuing drivers and their employers alike.
If you have questions about the process, a consultation with us could provide the answers. The consultations with our firm are always free. Contact us today to set up your free, no-obligation case evaluation as soon as possible.