Vicarious Liability In Louisiana Vehicle Crashes
Collisions between vehicles happen every day on Louisiana roads, and the damage to a person and their vehicle can be substantial. If an injured person believes that their injuries were caused by the negligence of another, they have the right to seek money damages from that person for the harm they have suffered. In some cases, however, they may be able to use a legal doctrine called vicarious liability (also known as respondeat superior) to hold additional defendants liable.
Vicarious liability is a doctrine that seeks to hold the employer of a negligent employee liable for the torts that employee may commit. If a person who is on the clock, so to speak, commits a tort (essentially the civil equivalent of a crime), an injured plaintiff may be able to hold that person’s employer liable for damages. A Shreveport personal injury attorney may be able to help you determine if your case fits these criteria.
Two Factors for Employer Liability
There are two primary situations in which a person may be able to assert vicarious liability against a potential defendant. One is when a person grants the use of their car to someone that they do not necessarily trust to drive safely – for example, if a parent allows their teenager to use their vehicle but has a reasonable fear that they will cause an accident, the parent may wind up liable for the negligence of their child. They may also find themselves facing charges of negligent entrustment, which is another cause of action.
The other situation, which is more common in Louisiana, is when someone who drives for a living causes a crash or other incident where another person is injured or killed – for example, a long-haul truck driver hitting a small car due to extreme fatigue (many truck drivers break the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [FMCSA] rules on hours of service, wanting to get an order fulfilled more quickly). Since the truck driver has arguably committed a tort, the injured driver of the small car may file suit against the driver’s employer as well as against the driver.
Louisiana’s law on vicarious liability states that an employer may be liable for the acts of an employee if two factors apply. The employee must be acting within the course and scope of their employment – in other words, they must be doing their job at the time they allegedly caused the accident; and the employer might reasonably have prevented the tortious act and failed to do so. Essentially, an employer can only be held liable via vicarious liability if it can be shown that their actions could have prevented the accident, had they chosen to act.
Seek Knowledgeable Legal Help
It is important to keep in mind that even if your collision meets all the relevant criteria for vicarious liability, there are exceptions to the rule, mostly to do with foreseeability of one’s actions. For example, Louisiana recognizes what is known as the “frolic and detour” exception; if the employee who allegedly caused your accident was “deviating” from the functions of their job, their employer cannot be held liable because, in theory, the employee was not acting within the scope of their employment. It is crucial to clarify exactly what the relationship between employer and employee is before filing suit against either.
If you have been injured in a collision and you suspect that the defendant was acting within the course and scope of their employment, consulting a Shreveport vicarious liability attorney may be a good idea for determining how best to proceed in the legal process. Rice & Kendig can handle the paperwork (i.e., obtaining medical records, accident reports, etc.), and work with you to ensure your rights are protected. Contact our office today at 318-222-2772 for your free consultation.