Employer Liability in Maryland Auto Accidents

Anyone who is injured in a Maryland car accident can pursue a claim for damages against the party or parties they believe to be responsible for causing the accident that led to their injuries. To succeed in a Maryland personal injury case, the plaintiff must be able to establish that the defendants were negligent.

In this context “negligence” is a legal term referring to a four-part analysis. Thus, in a negligence case, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed them a duty of care, which was violated by the defendant’s conduct, and that the defendant’s negligence was the cause the plaintiff’s injuries. Most often, Maryland personal injury cases that are filed after a car accident are filed against the other drivers involved in the crash. However, in some situations, a driver’s employer can also be named as a defendant.

In Maryland, a car accident victim can pursue a claim against an employer of a negligent driver if the following criteria are established:

  • The employer had control over the employee;
  • The driver’s allegedly negligent action was within the scope of the driver’s employment; and
  • The action was in furtherance of the employer’s business.

Of course, not all accidents involving a negligent employee driving a company car can be held against the employer. Typically, employers will not be responsible for an accident that occurs while an employee is commuting to work or outside of work hours. However, a recent state appellate court decision presented the court with an interesting situation that illustrates how courts view these claims.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured in a car accident while he was riding as a passenger in a pick-up truck. At the time the accident occurred, the plaintiff and driver were on their way to a family reunion; however, the driver was operating a pick-up truck that was provided to him by his employer.

The plaintiff filed a claim against the driver’s employer, arguing that it was liable for the employee’s negligence in causing the accident. Although the accident occurred while the driver was not at work and on the way to a personal function, the court held that the employer may be liable for its employee’s negligence. The court explained that the driver was employed as a maintenance worker who was expected to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The nature of the driver’s employment was such that he was expected to immediately respond to any maintenance emergency as quickly as possible.

Considering these facts, the court determined that the driver was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. The court explained that an emergency could arise at any time and the fact that the employee was required to be prepared for such an emergency meant he was always on-call, even when engaging in a non-work-related activity.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you have sustained. The dedicated Maryland injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience handling a wide range of personal injury cases in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have sustained, call 410-654-3600 today.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland and Virginia Car Accidents Caused by Unsafe Roads, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published December 24, 2018.

The Importance of Error Preservation in Maryland Personal Injury and Car Accident Cases, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published December 11, 2018.

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