Vicarious Liability In Car Crash Claims

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Vicarious Liability In Car Crash Claims

Too many Ohio motorists are dangerously underinsured. The Buckeye State has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country, and most motorists buy minimum coverage because of the cost of insurance. Low limits coverage is an issue in catastrophic (life-threatening) injury cases. Many injured motorists end up with medical bills that exceed $100,000 when the state minimum limits is only $25,000 per person. Accordingly, underinsurance is a real issue.

To obtain maximum compensation in these cases, a Columbus car accident lawyer could file a separate legal claim against the individual tortfeasor (negligent driver). Unfortunately, many people are basically judgment-proof, meaning they are uncollectible outside of their auto insurance limits. A third-party liability claim might be an option in some cases. Employers and commercially owned trucks often have coverage or have assets to pay for the negligence of their employees and drivers. A good trial attorney will explain the proper use of the vicarious liability theory which could be the difference between full and fair compensation and settling for less.

Alcohol Provider Liability

Commercial establishments, such as bars and restaurants, who illegally sells alcohol to an intoxicated patron who then causes a car crash could be vicariously liable for those damages.

Sales to intoxicated people are the most common illegal sales in Ohio. Evidence of intoxication at the time of sale usually includes knowledge of prior purchases at that location and physical symptoms, such as bloodshot eyes or slurred speech. Other illegal sales include unlicensed sales, before or after-hours sales, and underage sales.

A Columbus personal injury attorney can also explain how a party host and other noncommercial providers may be held vicariously liable for damages, including death.

Employer Liability

If a commercial driver causes a crash, like a truck driver or Uber driver, the respondeat superior rule usually applies as set out below:

  • Employee: Most commercial drivers are independent. In fact, many are even unpaid volunteers, such as church bus drivers. However, a good trial attorney may prove that these individuals are employees for negligence purposes. Ohio simply requires that they prove a reasonable amount of employer control, such as route traveled.
  • Scope of Employment: Today, Ohio law defines this phrase to include any act which benefits an employer in any way. For instance, driving an empty truck to a garage may be considered within the scope of employment.

Other employer liability theories, which often apply in assault or other intentional tort claims, include negligent hiring and negligent supervision.

Owner Liability

As a consumer, it’s important to understand owner liability when it comes to borrowed vehicles. Negligent entrustment is a legal concept that applies in both commercial and noncommercial borrowed vehicle claims.

While these cases can be difficult to win, it’s not impossible. In Ohio, there’s no specific law for borrowed vehicle liability, but private owners can still be held responsible for damages under the negligent entrustment doctrine. This means that if an owner allows an incompetent driver to use their vehicle, they may be held liable for any resulting damages.

An incompetent driver may include someone who is unlicensed or has a safety-suspended license. Other evidence can also be used to support a claim of negligent entrustment. It’s worth noting that the federal Graves Amendment, which protects rental companies from liability lawsuits, may have limitations that could still allow for legal action against them.

 Work with a Thorough Franklin County Lawyer

Injury victims, or family members of those killed on the highways, are entitled to compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Columbus, contact Oliver Law Office. Call us now at (614)-220-9100 or contact us online to schedule your case evaluation and to learn more about your legal options.


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