When a driver acts negligently or recklessly, causes a car accident, and injures someone in the other vehicle, naturally, that person may be liable for the financial damages their victim suffers. But they might not be the only one who is responsible.

In North Carolina, legal principles called vicarious liability and respondeat superior recognize that a negligent driver’s employer can also be liable for injuries caused by an employee, in the course of employment. As a victim of a negligent commercial truck driver or other employee of an employer, this could be a way to ensure that you receive full compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, damage to your vehicle, other expenses, and general damages for things like pain and suffering.

How vicarious liability and respondeat superior help accident victims

Vicarious liability refers to liability by someone other than the person who is actually performing the negligent act.   Respondeat superior (which is Latin for “let the master answer”) is a specific type of vicarious liability, under which employers can be liable for collisions or other acts of negligence caused by one of their employees, if the employee was in the course of their employment at the time.  Respondeat superior is separate from “negligent entrustment,” like negligence by the owner of a vehicle by entrusting their vehicle to a bad driver. For example, a trucking company can knowingly hire a driver with a poor driving record or no experience operating 18-wheelers, then give that driver one of the company’s trucks.

Generally, trucking companies and other businesses that involve transportation are well insured against motor vehicle accident liability. If you or your loved ones suffered severe, disabling injuries in your crash, the employer will be more likely to have the resources to compensate you adequately than the individual driver. For this reason, however, companies are more likely to question the amount of compensation you are entitled to.

Evening the playing field

In litigation, these companies may have deep pockets for hiring attorneys to defend them. Fortunately, most personal injury lawyers in Greensboro who represent plaintiffs work on a contingency basis. They get paid a portion of any settlement or successful trial verdict, so there are no upfront fees to the client.