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Apuntando la culpa

Si usted se involucra en un accidente de vehículo, y la persona que le pego estaba trabajando, el empleador puede ser responsable.

You approach a busy intersection, one you’ve traveled through hundreds of times before, carefully passing through it.

"If you have an open bodily injury claim, don't let the insurance companies try to push you to an early settlement or convince you that you don't need legal representation. We conduct an extensive investigation and require a defendants' signed declaration and full disclosure of all applicable coverage."

Then this happens: Wham!

You are struck violently by a truck belonging to a local business. You never saw it coming. You are forced out of work and, as you recover from your injuries, wonder if the businesses could be liable for your injuries because of the driver’s mistake?

This was the situation a jury in a Florida courtroom considered in October. Ultimately, they found a truck driver and his employer liable for the accident and the serious injuries it caused another driver, awarding her $2 million. 

Laws vary from state to state but generally if you are injured in an accident that’s at least partially caused by a negligent employee acting within the scope of his or her job, in the course of his or her employment, the worker and employer may be held liable for the harm caused by the accident. Under the law this is known as “respondeat superior.”

“There are all kinds of employees on the road, doing their jobs, during all times of the day and night, on major interstates, city streets and small-town back roads,” said Candice Bond, an attorney with Bond Sanchez-Gordon who represents vehicle accident victims. “They can be driving everything from semi-trucks to sedans. If one of these drivers causes an accident and injuries to another, their employer may also be held responsible.”

A defense in this situation is the employee was acting on his or her own, on a personal trip, perhaps doing something he or she was instructed not to do. If this can be shown the employer may avoid liability. 

In the Florida case the driver was traveling to an electronics store to purchase a TV for the restaurant when, according to the employer, he was asked by a family member to pick up her kids from school. He was on his way to the school, according to the defendants, when the accident happened. 

If that was true, the trip might have been deemed as personal and not related to the driver’s job or the businesses, which would probably not be held responsible for the accident. The jury didn’t accept the defendants’ claims because on the day of the accident in 2013 school wasn’t in session. They found the accident happened while the driver was on the job. 

“These types of accidents are often caused because the employee is in a rush to reach a certain destination and speeds or is distracted,” Bond said. The main benefit of finding an employer liable in an accident, Bond said, is the employer should have much more insurance coverage than the individual driver. If the accident victim suffers serious injuries, causing the loss of a job and requiring ongoing, potentially very expensive medical care, having multiple defendants and more insurance coverage makes it easier to pay for the harm done to a plaintiff.

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