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Employer Liability for Torts of Employees

If you are the owner of a business, or an employee of a business that utilizes a work car, you will want to pay special attention to the following post. Generally, a person injured by the negligence of another must seek redress from the person who caused the injury.[1] However, under the doctrine of respondeat superior, liability for a tort committed by an employee may be imputed to an employer without a showing that it was the employer’s fault.[2] The phrase respondeat superior is a Latin phrase that is used by attorneys, and simply means that an employer should be held liable for the damages caused by an employee who is acting within the scope of their employment.[3]

The doctrine may at first seem unfair, take for example, a pizza delivery driver who negligently runs a red light while delivering a pizza. Does it seem fair that the employer would be held liable for the damages? The idea behind the transfer of liability is that if an employer is benefiting from the acts of his employees the employer should also share in the risks. Yet, an employer cannot always afford to watch over their employees, so in most states employers are only liable for wrongful acts committed by their employees if those acts were committed within the scope of employment.

To establish an employer’s respondeat superior liability for the negligence of an employee, the plaintiff must prove that the person who negligently injured the plaintiff was: 1) an employee of the defendant and 2) acting within the scope of his or her employment when the plaintiff was injured. Generally, the plaintiff will bear the burden of proving these elements. However, these are finicky legal issues that you do not have to concern yourself with. If you are involved in an automobile accident, whether driving or as a passenger, do not ignore your injuries, seek medical treatment as soon as possible, do not admit liability, and contact Gruber Law Offices to ensure that your interest’s are protected.

 


[1] Bagent v. Blessing Care Corp., 224 Ill. 2d 154, 308 Ill. Dec. 782, 862 N.E.2d 985 (2007)

[2] Lathrop v. Healthcare Partners Medical Group, 114 Cal. App. 4th 1412, 8 Cal. Rptr. 3d 668 (1st Dist. 2004)

[3] Domarek v. Bates Motor Transport Lines, 93 F.2d 522 (C.C.A. 7th Cir. 1937) — 2, 15[b]