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Cabell County car accident could lead to vicarious liability

Residents of Cabell County may be interested to know that if they are involved in an automobile crash with an employee operating a company vehicle, they may be able to take action against both the employee and the employer. In car accident cases, if a victim can show that a worker was negligent in the course of work, the employer can also be held responsible.

Police reports or eyewitness testimony are often used to establish liability after a car accident. In matters involving an employee who negligently operates a vehicle, a victim can seek damages in a personal injury action against the employee and employer by alleging vicarious liability, or fault, on the part of the employer. The doctrine of vicarious liability holds an employer liable for negligence by an employee while operating an employer's vehicle if the employee acted in the scope of employment and used the vehicle within the scope of his authority at the time of the accident. If an injured victim can establish vicarious liability, they can recover damages for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering and property damage from the employer and the negligent employee.

This is illustrated by a car accident that took place near Barboursville about two years ago. A local couple was driving down a city street when a hospital employee traveling in what is claimed to have been a hospital-owned vehicle did not stop at a stop sign and ran into the couple's car. The man and woman were injured in the incident and more recently, filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver, the hospital and medical system that oversees the hospital. They maintain that the hospital and medical system are liable in addition to the employee because the negligent driver was working as an independent contractor at the hospital and purportedly operating a vehicle owned by a hospital at the time of the crash.

While proving vicarious liability may seem difficult, in cases where an employee causes serious injury to another individual during the course of work, a personal injury claim based on vicarious liability can allow a victim to recover compensation from all parties at fault in an accident. Money damages cannot heal injuries, but they can help diminish the costs that go hand in hand with a car accident.

Source: West Virginia Record, "Couple sues CAMC, St. Mary's for car accident," Kyla Asbury, Aug. 27, 2012

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