One of an injury victim’s most important considerations when filing a Maryland car accident claim is which parties to name as defendants. Generally speaking, an injury victim should include all potentially liable parties in a case to avoid one of the named parties from shifting liability onto a non-present party. This could have the effect of reducing a plaintiff’s total recovery amount, or even preventing a plaintiff from recovering for their injuries altogether.
Of course, the most obvious defendant in a Maryland car accident lawsuit is the other driver. However, it is important for Maryland accident victims to realize that individual motorists rarely have sufficient assets to fully compensate a plaintiff for their injuries they have sustained in a serious accident. While insurance coverage can help to cover a damages award, many motorists only carry the minimum amount of insurance which, in Maryland, is just $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident. Of course, the amount of damages in a serious Maryland car accident often far exceeds these figures.
By naming additional parties as defendants, a plaintiff increases their chances of being able to collect on any award they receive. This is especially the case when an added defendant is a business or government entity. For this reason, perhaps the most commonly named party other than the at-fault driver is the at-fault driver’s employer.
In many Maryland car accidents, the at-fault driver is on the clock. In these cases, the plaintiff can join the at-fault driver’s employer as a defendant in the lawsuit under a vicarious liability theory. Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine that allows one party to be held liable for the actions of another party. The most common example of vicarious liability is an employer being held responsible for a negligent employee’s actions. Of course, for an employer to be found vicariously liable for an employee’s actions, the employee must be working at the time of the accident, and the employee’s actions that resulted in the accident must be related to their employment. This is often referred to as being “within the scope of their employment.”
For example, in a recent state appellate decision, an employee of a doughnut chain rear-ended the plaintiff while she was stopped at a red light. The employee was traveling between 35-40 miles per hour at the time of the collision. Although the employer was not alleged to have been directly negligent in any way, the employee was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. Thus, when the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $330,000, the employer – and not just the employee – was on the hook for the damages.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you have recently been the victim of a Maryland car accident, contact the dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC for assistance. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have over 20 years of experience handling all types of personal injury cases, including Maryland car accidents. We provide free consultations to all prospective clients, during which we can explain the recovery process and what we can do to help. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation today. You can also contact us through our online form.