Perhaps, when you were a child, you were playing outside, and you threw a ball that broke the window of a neighbor's house. What you probably remember best about the incident is your parents being angry with you. What went on among the adults was some discussion of responsibility for the damage. Sure, the neighbor's homeowners' insurance may have paid for the repairs, but there was some understanding that, since you were a minor, your parents were legally responsible for the damage that you caused. It's a good thing that children do not drive cars until they are almost at the age of majority, but even when they do cause car accidents, it is their parents whose liability insurance pays for the damage. Vicarious liability in car accident cases is not limited to parents' liability insurance paying claims for accidents caused by teen drivers. Employers can also be responsible for accidents caused by their employees. A Spokane auto accident lawyer can help you if you have been injured in an accident caused by an employee driving a company-owned work vehicle.
When is an Employer Responsible for Harm Caused by its Employee?
The doctrine of vicarious liability, also known as respondeat superior, holds that employers are responsible for damage caused by their employees. This concept manifests itself in various ways. For example, if a customer slips and falls at a supermarket because the employees did not notice a water spill on the floor, it is the employer who is legally responsible, not the employees who were on duty at the time of the accident. Likewise, if a hospitalized patient gets injured because a nurse inserts an IV improperly, the hospital that employs the nurse is legally responsible, rather than the nurse who made the mistake.
How Do Vicarious Liability Laws Apply in Car Accident Cases?
Vicarious liability applies in car accident cases when the at-fault driver was acting within the scope of their employment. In other words, the employee was on duty at work, and driving the vehicle was part of the employee's duties. Your claim is stronger if the vehicle belonged to the employer, but it is not necessary to prove this in order for vicarious liability to apply. The employer can refute your claim of vicarious liability if they can prove that the employee caused the accident intentionally. It is unlikely that this will happen, though, because most people do not intentionally cause accidents unless they are committing insurance fraud, which few people would have the audacity to do while driving vehicles owned by their employers. You may be able to recover compensation to cover your accident-related medical expenses and vehicle repairs by filing a claim with the employer's insurance.
Contact West Law Office About Car Accident Cases
A car accident lawyer can help you get the money to cover your injury-related financial losses if you were injured in an accident where the at-fault driver was driving an employer-owned vehicle. Contact West Law Office in Spokane, Washington, to find out more about your legal options.