Car Accidents and Vicarious Liability

Consult a Dedicated Attorney After a West Virginia Accident

Getting involved in a car wreck is stressful enough without having to worry about the aftermath. Normally, the law requires someone whose carelessness caused a crash to compensate a victim. In many cases, however, someone other than the individual driver may be held financially responsible for the harm. This most commonly occurs when a company employs the negligent motorist. If you’ve been hurt by someone driving for work, you may be able to enlist a Randolph County vicarious liability lawyer to sue his or her employer as well. Issues of vicarious liability are complex and challenging to navigate. People considering this type of claim should contact Dorwin J. Wolfe, an experienced accident lawyer who has helped many clients in Clarksburg, Fairmont, Morgantown, and other regions of West Virginia.

Holding Employers Accountable for Negligent Actions by Employees

Vicarious liability is a form of secondary liability that arises under the theory of respondeat superior, which essentially says that supervisors should be responsible for the conduct of their subordinates. It is under this doctrine that employers are often held liable for the actions of their employees. However, an employer can held be liable for injuries caused by a worker only if the worker was acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident.

When you’ve been harmed in a car crash, and the driver responsible was a company employee, you may be entitled to compensation from both the employee and the company. This can happen, for example, when a commercial driver negligently causes an accident and injures someone else on the road. To hold the trucking company responsible for the actions of the truck driver, the victim first must establish that an employer-employee relationship existed at the time of the crash. This can be done by a vicarious liability lawyer in Randolph County by proving some basic facts about the relationship:

  • The employer and employee had a relationship in which the employee worked at the direction and control of the employer;
  • The employer had the authority to control the employee; and
  • The employee’s actions were within the course and scope of the employment framework.

Once the employer-employee relationship has been established, an injured person can proceed to show ordinary negligence in the context of a car accident. Negligence is the failure to take proper care in avoiding behavior that can result in an unreasonable risk of harm to others. An injured person can establish negligence by showing the following four elements:

  • The defendant owed the victim a duty of care to drive in a non-careless manner;
  • The defendant violated the duty of care with some careless or reckless action;
  • This violation caused the accident; and
  • The victim suffered injuries and actual damages as a result.

Each state has different time windows in which a negligence lawsuit can be brought, known as the statute of limitations. In West Virginia, if you do not file a claim within two years from the date of the accident, you may lose your legal right to pursue compensation.

If you file in time and show the elements of negligence, however, you may be able to get damages through a settlement negotiation or a jury verdict. Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, compensation may include money for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages and benefits, loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and other costs arising from the accident.

Vicarious Liability Attorney Assisting Randolph County Victims

If you have been hurt in a West Virginia collision by someone else’s employee, then you may be entitled to compensation from both the careless driver and the driver’s employer. At the Wolfe Law Firm, our skilled injury attorney Dorwin J. Wolfe has the tenacity to help you seek the compensation you deserve. Vicarious liability issues can take a long time to resolve due to the multiple parties involved. Therefore, it is crucial to contact a qualified Randolph County vicarious liability attorney as soon as possible after your accident. To learn more, contact us through our website or call us at 877-637-5756 for a free case evaluation.