One of the most common questions asked by victims of Alabama truck accidents is whether the trucking company that employs an allegedly at-fault driver can be held liable for the actions of the truck driver. As is the case with many legal questions, the answer is “it depends.”
The legal term respondeat superior refers to an ancient Latin phrase that roughly translated means “let the master answer.” Respondeat superior is a type of vicarious lability, meaning the doctrine allows one person to be held liable for the acts of another third party. Other types of vicarious liability include a parent’s responsibility for the actions of their minor child or a car owner’s responsibility for the actions of those they allow to use their car.
In modern day personal injury law, respondeat superior refers to a legal doctrine that allows for accident victims to hold an employer liable for the negligent acts of an employee in certain circumstances. Under Alabama case law, an accident victim must establish several elements in order to hold an employer liable for the acts of an employee. While this case involved a doctor who the plaintiff claimed was liable for the negligent acts of a nurse, the rules outlined by the court in its opinion have since been applied broadly by Alabama courts.
First, a plaintiff must establish that the employer had the “right of selection” over the employee and that the employer reserved a “right of control” over the employee. This essentially requires that the employer hired the employee and had the ability to supervise him. Once these elements are established, the question then becomes whether the employee was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the allegedly negligent act. If so, the employee’s actions may be attributable to the employer. Of course, the plaintiff must still establish that the employee’s negligent act caused the accident that resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries.
Determining the proper parties in an Alabama truck accident claim is imperative to the overall success of the claim for several reasons. First, if a truck driver is insolvent or maintained only bare-bones insurance coverage, there is the possibility that the truck driver has insufficient assets to fully compensate the victim. Second, by failing to name all potentially liable parties, a plaintiff runs the risk of the named defendant shifting the blame onto a non-present defendant. In such a situation, the plaintiff may lose their opportunity to recover compensation for their injuries because the party determined to be at fault was not subject to the court’s jurisdiction.
Have You Been Injured in an Alabama Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Alabama traffic accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Attorney Greg Reeves of the Reeves Law Firm has extensive experience representing Alabama truck accident victims in cases against both truck drivers as well as their employers. Attorney Reeves understands the nuances of Alabama personal injury case law, and he uses his advanced knowledge to his clients’ advantage in settlement negotiations and, if necessary, at trial. Call 256-355-3311 to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Reeves to discuss your case today.
More Blog Posts:
Filing an Insurance Claim after an Alabama Car Accident, Alabama Injury Lawyer Blog, January 2, 2018
Semi-Truck Accidents on Alabama Roads, Alabama Injury Lawyer Blog, December 14, 2017