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Liability Car Accident Theories of Major Third Parties

According to the old TV and movie expression, the ship’s captain is responsible for the crew’s acts. In negligence law, there is a similar rule that applies, which is that the responsibility of the plaintiff’s damages isn’t necessarily that of the negligent driver.

The national average of uninsured drivers is about 12%. There are, however, a lot of other under-insured drivers. Bodily injury and property damage coverage amounts might not be enough to provide fair compensation in major wrecks that involve newer vehicles. So, a lot of victims must look beyond the insurance company of that of the tortfeasor’s.

Liability of Employers

Respondent superior (the Latin term for “let the master answer”) is like the idea that the responsibility of the crew’s conduct belongs to the captain, because based on the theory of this third party liability, the employer is responsible for an employee’s negligent acts. There are pretty much two different elements in most states.

First, the negligent driver has to be an employee. The common-law definition for “employ,” or “suffer or permit to work,” is used by most courts. Since one of the primary factors in this test is the amount of control the boss has on all of the workers, it means that interns, volunteers, and independent contractors can qualify as employees under this some interpretation. The employee in all these situations also is the one who decides delivery truck routes, working hours, the way jobs are performed, and working conditions.

Some courts might agree that in the grey area of employee friends or spouses driving the vehicle for purposes of filling in or getting it serviced, these are employees for negligence purposes.

Another element is course and scope of employment. Once again, this phrase is defined as plaintiff-friendly and broad by courts. Usually, an employee’s activity is within the scope and course of employment if he or she is doing something that benefits the employer in some way. This could even be an activity like driving a company car with a logo of the company on it. If an employee took illegal action, such as stealing a car from a motor pool, this would mean that an employer would have a defense that was valid.

Rented Vehicles

In particular, during the summertime and moving months there is a large amount of large rental trucks on the road. Many of these big vehicles require a commercial driver’s license to operate them, in normal circumstances. In addition to being unfamiliar with the area, many moving truck drivers are inexperienced and get distracted by GPS navigators.

Under the Respondent superior standard a rental truck driver may seem like they’re an employee, but rental companies aren’t always responsible for any damages because of the Graves Amendment, which is an add-on that is little-known to a federal spending bill. Like many other add-ons, there isn’t much legislative history that is in support of 49 U.S.C § 30106, besides a couple of minutes of floor debate. Sam Graves (D-MO), a representative, introduced a bill that protects truck vehicle companies because a large company in the Northeast had to cease operations in multiple states a few months earlier after paying a multimillion dollar settlement.

In almost all cases, the law seems to be a blanket of immunity. But with closer inspection you will find very big loopholes within Section (a).

The Business of Truck Renting: Although the law doe not define this, it does usually mean that companies get most of their revenue from this source. A big company like U-Haul not only rents trucks, but is also like a moving company by selling moving supplies and renting storage spaces.

Not Negligent Otherwise: When the Graves Amendment got passed, there was no way of verifying a driver’s license for store clerks. But checks are now a lot easier, and courts have declared that letting someone rent a vehicle with suspended license or poor driving record is both conclusive proof and evidence of negligence.

The rental company might be liable for some, if not all, of the plaintiff’s damages, whether they’re economic or noneconomic, if the Graves Amendment does not apply.

Dram Shop Responsibilities

In some states, if an impaired person injures another person after being at a restaurant, bar, or tavern, or causes a car accident, the commercial alcohol provider might be liable for any damages. The Plaintiff must, by quality of evidence, prove to establish liability:

Making an Illegal Sale: In some states, it is a crime if a person “willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully furnishes, sells, or serves an alcoholic beverage to a person who is in a state of noticeable intoxication” or “to a person who is not of lawful drinking age.” The first kind of illegal sale might be objective, if the purchaser has a fake ID or another reasonable mistake that is not a defense, and if the purchaser is 21 or younger. Another type of illegal sale is normally proved by circumstantial evidence, like slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or unsteady balance.

Vehicles with Motors: It must be known by the establishment that an underage or intoxicated person is going to soon be driving a motor vehicle. Sufficient knowledge can normally be proven if the tortfeasor left alone.

In these cases economic damages can include medical bills and property loss, while noneconomic damages can include emotional distress and loss of enjoyment in life or other intangible items.

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