The State Supreme Court of Maine recently affirmed a lower court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of a truck rental company and an employer after an employee who was driving the truck was killed when the van slid off an icy road. About a year and a half after the fatal accident, the estate of the victim brought a lawsuit against the rental company and the driver’s employer. Both parties moved to dismiss the case and argued that they did not breach a duty owed to the employee, they did not proximately cause the employee’s death, and they were not vicariously liable for his death.
The lower court agreed and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The plaintiff’s estate then appealed. However, in a recently released opinion, the higher court agreed with the court below and concluded that they did not need to determine the specific and actual nature of the relationship between the two defendants because the plaintiffs did not present evidence to show that they were responsible.
Employer Responsibility and Liability in Maryland Personal Injury Lawsuits
In certain situations, a person may be actually injured by one party, but another party or entity may also be proximately liable. Essentially, proximate liability means that although a party may not have actually caused the injury, they engaged in some behavior that led to the injury or accident. A common situation in which this arises is when an employee is injured or causes an injury while they are performing a duty in the scope of their employment.
In order for a plaintiff to succeed in a lawsuit of this nature, they must be able to establish that the negligent employer had some sort of control over the employee, the behavior in which the employee engaged was within his scope of employment, and finally the action was taken while the employee was acting in furtherance of the employer’s business. In certain situations, the plaintiff must also prove that the employer should have known or did know that they were in control of the employee. In these cases, establishing the scope of employment prong is the most crucial.
To determine whether something was in the scope of employment, many Maryland courts have looked at similar factors. They examine things such as whether the act that caused the accident was commonly performed by other employees, when the act occurred, the relationship between the employer and the employee, the distribution of work among the employees, and whether the employee was acting outside their normal behavior when the accident occurred.
Have You Been Injured by the Negligence of Another Party in Maryland?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Maryland car accident, and you believe that the culpable party was acting within the scope of their employment, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the negligent driver as well as their employer. To learn more about Maryland car accident cases, and how you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries, call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with an experienced attorney.
More Blog Posts:
Aggravation of Pre-Existing Injuries in Maryland Car Accidents, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published June 16, 2016.
Court Permits Accident Victim’s Case against Church Alleging Dangerous Placement of Parking Lot, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published July 13, 2016.