Recent Case Throws Wrench Into Vicarious Liability Claim
In general, when you are injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle, you can sue the employee’s company under the theory of vicarious liability. This is the essential bargain of corporate personhood. A corporation is allowed to act as a single entity with the rights of an individual, meaning that they can lie and have rights to free speech, among other things. The downside of this bargain is that the corporation, which acts as a uniform entity, is responsible for the conduct of its employees, even when these employees are negligent and cause accidents. However, there are limitations to this liability as we will see below.
The case involved an employee with Cisco Systems Inc, getting into an accident with another vehicle. It was determined that the employee was negligent for the accident. The plaintiff attempted to recover damages from the defendant company, but the company argued that their employee was not within the scope of his employment duties when the accident occurred. The court concurred with the company’s argument and the lawsuit was dismissed. The plaintiff’s lone remedy, then, would be against the employee.
The employee was an engineer with Cisco Systems Inc. He was sent to a Tampa site to work for a Tampa client. During his stay, he used a rental car paid for by Cisco and stayed in a hotel that was also paid for by Cisco. The employee was driving his rental vehicle to work when the accident occurred.
Cisco moved to summarily dismiss the case on the basis that an individual driving to and from work is not within the scope of their employment duties. Their argument held merit and the case was dismissed.
Sometimes, lawsuits are kiboshed on matters of law. Other times, they are kiboshed in the interests of judicial economy. Although the employee was using a vehicle paid for by his employer, if every individual who got into an accident on their way to work was able to sue the employer of the driver, then almost all personal injury torts emerging from traffic accidents would be the burden of companies. Courts would be forced to determine whether or not stopping for coffee on your way to work was within the scope of your employment. Since the court has no interest in allowing such cases to move forward or imputing liability for all traffic that occurs between 6 am and 5 pm, the lawsuit was tossed. The case is being appealed on the grounds that the vehicle was a company vehicle since it was paid for by the employee’s company.
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If you’ve been injured due to the carelessness or malice of another individual, you can sue to recover damages related to your injuries. Call the Miami personal injury lawyers at Payer Law today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.