Our Fort Walton Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, then you may be somewhat overwhelmed by the prospect of litigation. This anxiety can be worsened if you discover that the defendant-driver does not have sufficient insurance coverage (or personal assets) to cover your losses. In such circumstances, you may have to start looking at other potential defendants from whom you can secure compensation.
In Florida, employers are an excellent defendant against whom to pursue a claim — and they can potentially be sued for the actions of their employees. Let’s take a closer look.
Vicarious Liability of the Employer
Florida — as in other states — allows for injured plaintiffs to hold employers liable for the negligence of their employees. This applies to the auto accident context, as well.
Critically, however, vicarious liability can only be imposed on the employer if the employee-driver was acting within the “course and scope" of their employment.
What does this mean, exactly?
Simply put, the defendant-driver must have been performing a job-related duty at the time of the accident (or have been using a company vehicle). If the employee was simply commuting back home from work in their personal truck when they got into an accident with you, for example, then that would not be sufficient to impose vicarious liability on their employer.
Independent Negligence of the Employer
If the defendant-driver was not negligent but instead engaged in reckless or intentional misconduct (vicarious liability is not an option), then you may still be able to impose liability on their employer through an independent claim of negligence.
These may include negligent supervision or negligent hiring claims — but how does it work?
Suppose that you are injured in a car accident with a pizza delivery driver. The driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident, so the employer cannot be held vicariously liable for the driver’s misconduct (as voluntary intoxication is not negligence). However, the employer can be held independently liable for hiring a known alcoholic. If you investigate the facts further and discover that the employer knew the delivery driver had a history of drunk driving, alcoholism, and related license suspensions, then you could argue that the employer negligently hired the driver — and that they should have hired someone else.
Under these circumstances, the employer can be held independently liable for their own negligence in failing to hire a “safe” driver.
Contact Powell Law Firm for Assistance
Powell Law Firm is a Florida-based personal injury firm founded nearly seven decades ago and serving injured plaintiffs throughout the state of Florida in a range of disputes, including those involving auto accidents.
Over the years, we have developed a reputation as capable litigators who are ready and willing to take a case to trial. This trial-ready approach gives us an advantage in early negotiations with opposing counsel — thanks to this negotiation leverage, we are often able to secure a favorable settlement result.
If you’d like to speak to an experienced Fort Walton car accident lawyer at our firm, then call us at 850-682-2757 or send us a message online to schedule a free and confidential consultation today.