The law allows defendants to hold employers responsible for the acts committed by their employees that are considered within the scope of employment. Tort law has developed and articulated this legal doctrine over many years. The doctrine is called respondeat superior, and it provides that employers may, depending on the facts of the case, have to answer for negligent injuries caused to third parties by their workers.
This doctrine can come up in car accidents where an employee, while driving a company vehicle on company time, gets into a crash. For example, a family is suing an Illinois construction firm and one of its employees over the deaths of three relatives. The three died last summer when the employee plowed into their car at an intersection in western Illinois.
The lawsuit asserts that the man was driving a company-owned car as he approached the intersection at high speed. He failed to obey a stop sign and could not avoid the deceased occupants’ car. The driver and two passengers perished in the violent crash. Their relatives, who are now the plaintiffs in the wrongful death case, are suing for the loss of society, comfort and valuable services once provided by the deceased.
Sometimes determining whether an accident occurred within the scope of the worker’s employment can be difficult. It is necessary to dig into the facts of the case to make this determination. By holding a company responsible for the negligent actions of its employees, plaintiffs can receive the compensation that they deserve.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Family files wrongful death suit against Illinois company in fatal crash,” Naomi Nix, July 17, 2012.