Many trucks, box trucks and tractor trailers travel on New Jersey highways such as I-295, the NJ Turnpike and the Garden State Expressway. Inevitably, truck-car or tractor trailer-car accidents happen, and NJ drivers and passengers are injured. If the truck or tractor trailer drivers cause the accidents, they may be sued by the injured car-truck accident victims.
Most truck and tractor trailer drivers are working when the motor vehicle accidents happen. They may be making deliveries or shipments to various destinations. Therefore, the drivers’ employers may also be liable for the motor vehicle accidents, in addition to the drivers. This article will discuss the liability of employers when their employees, such as delivery truck drivers, cause NJ motor vehicle accidents.
The Doctrine of Respondeat Superior in NJ
In general, the driver who caused a NJ car accident will be held accountable for the car accident in a civil lawsuit. The doctrine of respondeat superior recognizes the vicarious liability principle, where a master/employer will be held liable in certain cases for wrongful acts of his servants/employees. Therefore, if a truck driver was making a delivery for his employer when he caused the accident, his employer may also be liable for the accident.
“Under respondeat superior, an employer can be found liable for the negligence of an employee causing injuries to third parties, if, at the time of the occurrence, the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment.” See Lehmann v. Toys ‘R’ Us, Inc., 132 N.J. 587, 619 (1993).
In order to prove that an employer was responsible for his employee’s negligent acts which led to an accident/injury, the injured party must establish the following:
1. that a master-servant relationship existed, and
2. that the tortious (negligent) act of the employee occurred within the scope of that employment.
The question then becomes whether an act is within the scope of employment. In general, an employee’s action is within the scope of employment if it is the kind of action that the employee is hired and authorized to carry out within the authorized time. In addition, the action advances the employer’s business.
Click here to read part 2, which discusses a hypothetical tractor-trailer/car accident in NJ and the liability of the driver’s employer.
If you were injured in a truck accident in NJ and would like a FREE case evaluation, call Philip T. Ciprietti at 800.281.8695.
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