You can make a claim against the business or company that employs the person that caused the accident, and the responsible driver as well.
As a general rule, an employee of a business commits an act of negligence [ e.g. a car accident] that injures another, while conducting the business of that employer, an injury victim may seek to recover damages from the employee that hurt them, or, from the business itself. Many Baltimore personal injury lawsuits are built on this principle, which the law calls respondeat superior.
The option to pursue the employer for the wrongful act of employee can take on enormous significance. Consider that most personal automobile policies issued in Maryland have coverage of only $30,000. Many commercial policies have coverage limits that exceed one million dollars.
What happens, though, if the person that commits the negligent act is not an employee of a business, but rather an independent contractor- doing work for the business, but not actually employed by the business? Some Baltimore personal injury lawyers will advise you that, as a general rule, the business that uses an independent contractor to perform work is not liable for the negligence of that contractor, or the negligence of the employees of that contractor. However, in Appiah v. Hall, the Maryland Court of Appeals discussed two exceptions to the general rule. One, where the business using the services of a contractor is a possessor of land and allows an unsafe condition to exists on land owned by the business, the business may be liable for personal injury caused by the unsafe condition. Secondly, if the business using the independent contractor retains control over the details and methods of the work, the contractor performs that work negligently, and the very aspect of the work over which control is retained causes a personal injury, that business may be held liable for the negligence of the contractor.
Maryland law also provides that an employer may not hire or retain anyone who poses an unreasonable risk of harm to others who could foreseeably have contact with that person because of the employment. In order to prevail in this type of claim, injured person must show that the person causing the harm was actually an employee of the defendant employer; that the person causing the harm was not competent to perform the tasks of the employment; the defendant employee knew the employee was incompetent; that there was an act that caused harm, and that the defendant employer's negligence in hiring or retaining the employee was the cause of the injury. These are typically difficult cases to prove, as the law provides that a principal, or employer, may be responsible for the negligent conduct of another, but a principal is typically not responsible for the intentional [ e.g. criminal] conduct of another, absent compelling circumstances.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a company vehicle, it is imperative that you promptly consult with an experienced Baltimore personal injury attorney to determine your rights. Investigation into the owner of the involved vehicle, the nature of the employment, and the role of the employee/driver at the time of the accident are critical steps that must be taken quickly.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 2/8/19.
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