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Car accidents and vicarious liability

For many New Jersey residents who have been injured in wrecks, filing a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver who harmed them will result in the recovery of compensation. This money oftentimes helps these victims recoup their lost wages and pay off their medical expenses. It can even help ease one's pain and suffering. Yet, far too many times these victims' recoveries, while extensive, do not cover the true harm caused to them. This can even happen when a judge or jury awards an adequate amount, as sometimes the defendant is physically unable to pay the full recovery amount.

This is why it is critical for victims of car accidents to consider whether vicarious liability can be imposed on another party. Under this theory of law, also known as respondeat superior, an employer can be held liable for its employees' actions. Therefore, if a trucker causes an injurious or fatal accident, then the company for which he or she works may also be held liable for damages suffered by the victim. This gives a victim access to deeper pockets that are more likely able to fully pay a recovery amount.

Proving vicarious liability can be challenging, though. A plaintiff must prove that the employee was performing in his or her job capacity at the time of the accident and that the employer was receiving some sort of benefit at the time the wreck occurred. Oftentimes, in an attempt to protect themselves, employers will argue that their employee was outside of their scope of employment at the time of the wreck in question.

Plaintiffs therefore need to be sure to identify any additional parties that can be sued and gather any documentation that may support their claim. These individuals may face pushback from defense attorneys, but they can stand their ground so long as they know how to do so with strong legal arguments. Thus, those seeking compensation for their accident injuries may want to consider seeking assistance from a legal advocate who will fight to protect their interests.

Source: FindLaw, "Vicarious Liability," accessed on March 12, 2017

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