Suing the Employer for the Employee’s Actions

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When you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence you may be eligible for compensation by way of a personal injury claim. However, if the negligent person was an employee and was ‘on the clock’, you may be able to sue the wrongdoer’s employer for your injuries. This article will discuss what is referred to as ‘respondeat superior’ in a personal injury case and how it works.

If you have suffered injuries in a car accident that was caused by a driver who was on the clock for his company and the driver’s insurance coverage will not come close to covering your injuries and other damages there are other available options to you. The term respondeat superior is Latin meaning ‘let the master answer’.  In order to prove a respondeat superior theory in a personal injury case, it is necessary for the plaintiff to prove that the employee was acting within the course of his or her employment at the time of the accident and was engaged in conduct that was furthering the employer’s business.

As a general rule, if the employee was not on the clock at the time of the accident or their conduct was outside the scope of their duties and responsibilities as defined by the employer, the employer will not be found liable for the employee’s wrongdoing under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Take the following examples into consideration:

  • If James is injured in a car accident that was caused by a driver of an auto parts store who was on a delivery for the company in the middle of his scheduled work shift while engaging in duties of his company for the employer’s benefit; under these circumstances the employer is clearly liable for the employee’s negligence and the claim based on respondeat superior against the employer will likely be successful.
  • If a grocery store worker is shopping at the store on her day off and negligently knocks a glass jar off the shelf and the glass hits and injures another shopper; even though the employee’s duties include stocking and maintaining inventory, the fact is the worker was not on the clock at the time of the incident and therefore, the employer cannot be held liable for other shoppers injuries based on a respondeat superior theory of liability.
  • If a store’s security guard is investigating an alleged shoplifting incident and commits an unprovoked violent assault on a store patron, it cannot be reasonably argued that the assault was within the scope of the security guards defined job duties and responsibilities nor can one can go as far as to say that it was for his employer’s benefit. In such a situation the injured store patron will not be successful in pursuing an injury claim against the store based on respondeat superior. However, the patron can claim against the guard himself.

Respondeat superior is applicable in a personal injury case as claimants will want to sue a corporate entity rather than an individual because businesses typically carry much greater amounts of insurance. For legal advice in respect of car accident Sylmar contact a law firm of professions.