Semi-trucks are massive vehicles weighing tens of thousands of pounds, and unfortunately, not all semi-truck drivers in are safe drivers. If you were in a crash caused by a semi-truck driver in Atlanta it is likely that you came off worse for wear. You may be suffering from catastrophic injuries and terrible mental anguish. You may be unable to work to earn money for yourself and your family.
You want to hold the semi-truck driver responsible for their actions by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Did you know, though, that you may also be able to sue the company the trucker worked for? This is done via the legal doctrine of “respondeat superior.”
What is respondeat superior?
Under respondeat superior, employers can be held liable for the negligent acts of their employees if these acts took place within the scope of the employment. Negligence takes place when a person has a duty of care, which is breached and then causes foreseeable damages. Respondeat superior is also referred to as “strict liability.”
State law varies on what standards must be met to invoke respondeat superior. However, most states follow one of two standard tests: the benefits test and the characteristics test
Under the benefits test if the employee’s actions are expressly or implicitly endorsed by the employer and the employer stands to benefit from the acts of the employee, then the employer may be held legally liable for the acts of the employee.
Under the characteristics test, if the employee’s actions are so common that they fall under the characteristics of the job, the employer is held legally liable for the acts of the employee.
Does respondeat superior apply to independent contractors?
Note that respondeat superior only applies to workers that have an employee-employer relationship with the employer. Respondeat superior does not apply to independent contractors. This is important, as some truckers are considered independent contractors. If so, you could not hold the trucking company liable for the acts of the trucker via respondeat superior.
If you are injured in a truck accident in Atlanta, and you want to pursue legal action, it is important to include all possible defendants in your filing. For some, this means including both the trucker and the trucking company in their legal claim. If you want to learn more about respondeat superior, you can discuss your situation with a personal injury attorney.