Establishing Employer Liability in Florida Car Accident Cases

When a Florida car accident is caused by someone who was working at the time of the accident, anyone injured as a result of the employee’s negligence may be able to pursue a claim against both the employee and the employer through the doctrine of vicarious liability. The doctrine of vicarious liability allows accident victims to hold one party liable for the negligent acts of another party, even if the employer was not alleged to be directly at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries.

In the case of employer liability, a Florida accident victim must be able to establish that the employee’s actions that are the basis of the plaintiff’s claim were:  1.) within the scope of their employment, and 2.) during the course of employment and to further a purpose or interest of the employer. If these elements are met, the plaintiff can name the at-fault party as well as their employer as defendants, regardless of whether the employer had any reason to know that the employee presented a danger to others.

Florida accident victims can also pursue a claim of primary negligence against an at-fault party’s employer based on the employer’s own negligence. Unlike claims alleging vicarious liability, these claims require the plaintiff to establish that an employer was somehow negligent. Examples of primary liability claims against an employer are negligent hiring and negligent retention claims. A recent case illustrates one way an accident victim can pursue a claim against an at-fault driver’s employer.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was rear-ended by an employee who worked at the defendant restaurant. The employee was traveling at approximately 35-40 mph at the time of the accident. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff suffered serious injuries. After the accident, the restaurant issued the employee a “corrective action,” noting that he was at fault for causing the accident. In an insurance document, the restaurant noted that the plaintiff was zero percent at fault.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the restaurant, arguing that it was vicariously liable for the acts of the at-fault employee. The restaurant did not seriously contest that it was responsible for the employee’s actions, primarily focusing its case on disproving the extent of the plaintiff’s claimed damages. The case proceeded to trial, where the jury found in the plaintiff’s favor, issuing a verdict of $330,000. Not satisfied with the jury’s award decision, the plaintiff appealed the jury’s decision but was largely unsuccessful in doing so. The only claim resolved in the plaintiff’s favor was her claim that the defendant should be responsible for her attorney’s fees under state law.  Thus, the court ordered a new trial for the resolution of that issue.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida car accident, contact the dedicated attorneys at the South Florida personal injury law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank for assistance. At Friedman, Rodman & Frank, we represent victims in all types of personal injury cases, including car accident cases, slip-and-fall accident cases, and wrongful death claims. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for financial compensation, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you obtain compensation for your injuries.

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