Holding a Florida Employer Responsible for the Negligence of an Employee

An important consideration in any Florida personal injury case is whether a plaintiff will be able to collect on a judgment if they are successful at trial. For example, the financial and emotional expense of taking a case to trial against a defendant who does not have sufficient assets to cover a judgment may not make sense. Thus, it is essential that Florida personal injury victims name all potentially liable parties.

In many cases, this means naming the employer of the at-fault party as a defendant. Generally speaking, employers have more substantial assets than employees, and they may also have higher-limit insurance policies making collecting on a judgment much less of a headache for a successful plaintiff.

In Florida, an employer may be liable for the negligent acts of an employee, even if the employer was not negligent in causing the accident. This is referred to as vicarious liability. Of course, employers cannot be named in every Florida personal injury accident. In Florida, to establish that an employer is liable for the negligent acts of an employee, the plaintiff must show that the at-fault employee was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident and that he was “engaged in his master’s business.” A recent state appellate decision illustrates how courts view vicarious liability claims.

The Facts

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was struck by a driver as he was attempting to cross the street. Evidently, the employee worked as a branch manager for an HVAC company. As a branch manager, the employee was required to occasionally deliver orders to customers and pick up parts at other branches. On the day of the accident, the employee was near another branch but was running a personal errand.

The parties disputed what occurred after the accident, with the employee claiming that he only dropped off breakfast at a customer’s store before heading home. The plaintiff, however, presented evidence suggesting that the employee stayed in the area and performed additional work-related tasks for the next few hours. Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant appealed.

On appeal, the court reviewed the evidence and found that, although the evidence was conflicting, it was also sufficient to support a finding that the employee was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. The court noted that when evidence is conflicting, the jury is free to accept or reject the testimony and evidence presented by either party. Here, the court explained, the jury accepted the plaintiff’s version of the events. Thus, the court affirmed the jury’s verdict.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you have sustained. At the South Florida law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank, we represent Florida personal injury victims in all types of cases, including car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents. To learn more about how we can help you with your situation, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

What Is an Attractive Nuisance under Florida Personal Injury Law?, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published February 21, 2019.

The Concept of Personal Jurisdiction in Florida Personal Injury Cases, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 7, 2019.

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