If you have been injured in a car accident, you might have a viable injury case against parties other than the other driver. In some instances, you could sue a company if their employee crashes their vehicle into yours. You may even be able to sue the employee in addition to the employer, although this will depend on the specifics of your car accident.
It is not always clear if you can sue an employer following an accident. Different factors go into this calculation, and you may find it difficult to calculate these values without the help of a personal injury attorney. Let our firm assist you with identifying all of the parties liable for your damages following a car accident.
What Is Vicarious Liability?
The legal theory that can require an employer to cover the damages caused by their employees is known as vicarious liability. This doctrine also goes by the Latin phrase respondeat superior. With this legal theory, you could pursue damages from the driver’s employer driver that hit you even if the company was not directly involved in the accident.
Employers are not on the hook for the bad acts of every employee at all times. In order for you to pursue a civil case against an employer, you must show the driver was working within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident.
If the at-fault driver was acting on behalf of their employer at the time of the crash, the employer could be liable. If they were on a detour or doing something on their own time, the employer may not be liable. A personal injury lawyer can review the case and determine if the employee’s actions could support a case for vicarious liability.
The Aftermath of an Accident
Right after your crash with someone who was on the clock for their employer, gather as much information as possible. Like any standard accident, get the driver’s personal information and insurance details. Make sure to take note of witnesses, driving conditions, damages the driver’s employer, details about the company vehicle, and anything else that can help build your case.
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What If the Accident Was Intentional?
In many states, intentional conduct is not covered by vicarious liability. That is not the case in Pennsylvania. It is possible for you to hold an employer accountable for some intentional acts committed by an employee. That said, there are exceptions that could apply in many vehicle accident cases.
It is only possible to file a lawsuit against the driver’s employer based on an intentional act if the employee’s action was in line with the employer’s interests. When it comes to vehicle collisions, many intentional acts are unrelated to the driver’s employment or the employer’s interests. However, a case could be made that a driver intentionally caused an accident in an effort to make a delivery on time could result in vicarious liability for the employer.
For the most part, car accidents are just that—accidents. When these collisions happen, it is important to make note of anything that points to the driver working within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident. This could include driving a company car.
Pursuing Settlements from an Employer’s Insurance Policy
Businesses have insurance policies to help pay for accidents that involve their employees. These policies may not cover all employees hired by the company, but a lawyer can help you determine if this is the case. For example, the policy may not cover a contractor working for the business.
If necessary, you can pursue a lawsuit if you cannot settle with the employer. Ultimately, your attorney could advise you on any benefits and drawbacks that come with filing a lawsuit against the other driver’s employer.
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Time Limits for Suing an Employer After a Car Accident
Like any personal injury, you have a deadline for filing a lawsuit after your car accident, regardless of what party owes you compensation. In Pennsylvania, you have two years to act before you can no longer file your lawsuit, per Pa. C.S.A. § 5524. Although some limited exceptions exist which may extend the deadline, it’s best to file a lawsuit as quickly as possible to preserve your right to seek compensation.
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You Could Recover Compensation From a Negligent Driver’s Employer In Some Cases
If you were injured in an accident, you might be able to sue a company if their employee caused the crash. This is possible through a legal standard known as vicarious liability. The process of pursuing legal action against an employer can be challenging, especially without an attorney by your side.
The attorneys of Berger and Green are ready to investigate your case and identify all of the potential defendants in your case. If the driver that struck you was acting in the scope of their employment, we could pursue legal action against their employer. To learn more about your options, call (412) 661-1400 right away for a free consultation.
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