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Explaining the Legal Theory of Respondeat Superior in Virginia Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Law

Respondeat superior is a centuries-old legal theory that allows an injury victim to hold an employer responsible for the harmful actions of its employee. The Latin phrase translates as “Let the master answer,” and its use is well-established in Virginia personal injury and wrongful death law.

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Technically, respondeat superior is a form of vicarious liability. The employer bears responsibility for the actions of its employee even though the employer did not instruct nor cause the employee to injure or kill another person.

pxhere, https://pxhere.com/en/photo/766921The concept flows directly from the obvious fact that an employer equips and empowers an employee to act on its behalf; that is, the employee becomes an agent of the employer. When actions taken for the benefit of the employer inflict harm, it is not really any different, in a legal sense, than if the employer had acted directly.

A large body of Virginia case law establishes rules for when a personal injury or wrongful death attorney can invoke respondeat superior on behalf of a client, The three basic tests are

  • Does an employer-employee relationship exist?
  • Was the employee conducting employer business at the time the injury or death occurred?
  • Was the employee acting within the scope of his or her work-related duties?

The accident victim’s lawyer must be able to answer each of these questions with a yes. Defendant employers will often contest the third point, arguing that the employee took unauthorized actions. Generally, courts will agree that anything an employee did in the interest of an employer was within the scope of employment even if a specific action is not in the employee’s job description.

Another defense that an employer may try involves claiming that the person who inflicted injuries or caused a death was not really an employee. Employers cannot be held vicariously liable for the negligence or recklessness of a contractor.

The tests Virginia courts use to determine whether a person is an employee include

  • Does the employee pay the person through its regular payroll?
  • Can the employer fire the person?
  • Does the employer provide the person with a location for work and all the materials to do his or her job?

Finding answers to questions like these can require going before a civil trial jury. As Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorneys, my colleagues and I have done this in cases involving

EJL

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Car Accidents Caused by Teen Drivers

Every teenager looks forward to the day they can have the independence of driving. Teenagers as young as fifteen can begin learning how to drive. Once the learning requirements are met, and the child reaches sixteen years old, they can test for an initial license. This license has restrictions like the number of passengers, and stricter mobile device usage while being the wheel. With up to thirty percent of motor vehicle accident costs are attested to teenagers and young adults, there is a chance you may get into an accident with someone driving as young as sixteen years old.

Getting a Driver’s License

Anyone who operates a vehicle legally had to work to get a driver’s license. After obtaining a learner’s permit, the teenager must practice driving with a licensed adult for fifty hours. Ten of those hours must be done at night. Once the minimum of driving hours has been reached, and the permit has been active for at least nine months, a sixteen-year-old may receive an initial driver’s license. A full license can be applied for between the ages of eighteen and twenty.

 

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When a teen driver gets into a car accident, they are usually covered by their parent’s car insurance. In North Carolina, the minimum liability insurance coverage for car accidents is $30,000 for bodily injury to or death of 1 person; $60,000 for bodily injury to or death of one or more persons; and $25,000 for injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident. When adding a teen driver, some parents may increase their insurance above the minimum.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, six teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 die every day as the result of motor vehicle accidents. Teen drivers are more likely to get into accidents than adult drivers because of a lack of experience behind the wheel. Other common causes on top of that are distracted driving, speeding, and driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

The latter has become an extremely tragic issue. According to a studies, 50 percent of all teens involved in fatal car crashes are under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or both. There are 4,500 teens killed every year in this country from drunk driving crashes.

After getting into a car accident with a teenage driver, the parents of the teenager are not usually held liable for their teenager under Illinois law. An exception may be if the teenager was doing a family chore, like going to the grocery store.

Contact a Carolinas Car Accident Attorney

Whether from driver error or reckless driving behaviors, if you have been injured in a car accident caused by a teen driver, contact a North Carolina car accident attorney to find out what legal options you may have.

Our N.C. injury firm will work with you to ensure that you receive the financial compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries, including damages for medical expenses, loss of income, pain, emotional distress, and other losses you have suffered.

 

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