The issue of liability is of central importance in all personal injury incidents, including in an Augusta car accident. If you suffer a crash in Augusta, GA, you need to know who the liable party is before you can file a claim and seek damages. An Augusta car accident lawyer can help you with this.
In most accidents, liability is relatively clear. One or more parties are guilty of the negligence that caused the crash. You identify these parties which are often the other drivers involved and file a claim with their insurance company. However, sometimes the principle of vicarious liability comes into play. Here is a look at what it is and how it relates to Augusta car wrecks.
The Doctrine of Respondeat Superior
As per Georgia Code Section 51-2-2, an employer can be held liable for injuries, deaths, and other losses caused by negligence committed by its employees. This is known as the doctrine of respondeat superior.
However, two key conditions must be met in order for vicarious liability to be established. These are the following:
It must be shown that the employee was working in the course of their employment when the accident occurred. If an employee had taken a train to work and the incident occurred on board the bus, for instance, the employer can’t be held liable. Similarly, if the employee was driving back home and caused an accident, he wasn’t acting in the course of work. To prove this condition, it must be shown that the employee was actually at work and performing work-related tasks when the incident occurred.
This is the second condition for the doctrine of vicarious liability to apply. Even when an employee was working in the course of their work, you must also be able to prove that they were acting within the scope of their work activities. For instance, if a pizza delivery guy took a detour during the job to meet a friend, the detour is legally considered outside the scope of work as the pizza company hadn’t mandated it.
The course and scope of work as they apply to vicarious liability cases can be confusing. This is why it is best to consult a lawyer if you think you may have a crash claim under respondeat superior.
Vicarious Liability in an Augusta Car Accident
The issue of vicarious liability usually comes up in accidents where a commercial vehicle is involved. For instance, in truck accidents, it is important to know whether the trucking company can be held liable. This is because trucking companies are capable of paying up the full extent of a crash victim’s damages whereas the insurance company of the truck driver may not offer full coverage.
Vicarious liability may also apply in the case of a non-commercial Augusta car accident. If the at-fault driver was acting within the course and scope of their job as the employee of any business, that business can be held vicariously liable.
As noted above, this is particularly helpful in serious accidents where crash victims may suffer extensive losses. The personal policy of the at-fault driver may not be sufficient to cover these losses. If vicarious liability is established, the employer can then be asked to cover the outstanding amount.
Distinction Between Independent Contractor and Employee
It is important to understand the distinction between independent contractors and employees when holding an employer vicariously liable in an Augusta car accident. An employer can be held liable for the negligent actions of an employee. However, the same is not true for independent contractors. Many trucking companies hire their drivers as independent contractors simply in order to avoid liability due to the driver’s negligence.
However, there are situations where a company may be held liable even for one of its independent contractors. The court will look at a number of factors before determining whether or not the employer can be deemed vicariously liable.
Hiring an Augusta Car Accident Lawyer
If you have suffered a car accident in Augusta, GA, it is important to consult a good lawyer at the earliest. A car accident lawyer can help you sort out the issue of liability and file a claim at the earliest. Here at Ted Greve & Associates, we help you recover full compensatory damages in accidents involving commercial or company-owned vehicles.
Our lawyers work with you to establish vicarious liability so that the liable employer pays you the compensation you deserve. Reach out to us now to discuss your car crash claim in a free one-on-one consultation with our lawyers.