An employee who operates a car on company business is an agent or representative of that company. In North Carolina and elsewhere in the United States, when that employee is negligent and causes a car accident, you can sue both the employee and his or her company for damages. Yet, recovering damages from an employer and their insurance is not automatic.
Our car accident attorneys at Rhine Law Firm in Wilmington can develop evidence to overcome the defenses that employers use to challenge their vicarious liability for an employee’s negligence. We use the expertise we have developed in more than 34 years of representing injured North Carolina motorists to recover the largest damages awards that are available to compensate them for their injuries and losses.
How do companies challenge liability claims when their employees cause accidents?
The common defense used by employers to avoid liability is that their employee was driving a car for personal reasons unconnected to the employer’s business. This defense might be presented in several ways:
- If an employee crashes a car while commuting to and from work, the employer can argue that the employee was not conducting company business.
- An employee who diverts from company business to take care of a personal matter (sometimes referred to as a “frolic” or
detour) may be deemed to be operating a vehicle apart from a company’s control or as the employer’s agent.
- A company might argue that the person who caused the crash is an independent contractor and not an employee who is under the company’s control.
Your car accident lawyer will delve into the relationship between the employee and the company. They will examine the detailed circumstances regarding how and when the accident happened. If a preponderance of the evidence shows that the employee crashed a vehicle while they were serving the employer’s interests, the employer will likely bear at least some liability for injuries and losses.
How does a car accident lawyer pursue a settlement or verdict from an employer and their insurance carriers?
As a preliminary matter, injured North Carolina car accident victims need to initiate their lawsuits against potentially liable parties within three years of the accident. The employer will then notify its insurance carriers of the lawsuit. North Carolina law prevents injured accident victims from stacking or aggregating insurance policies to recover damages from multiple sources, but a victim can still pursue the largest insurance settlement that may be available. Their personal injury attorney will manage settlement negotiations with the company’s insurers and, if they decline to settle for an appropriate amount of damages, that attorney will pursue the matter further with a trial.
Contact Rhine Law Firm for a free consultation
Call us at Rhine Law Firm in Wilmington as soon as you can after you have suffered injuries when a company employee caused a crash. We will aggressively pursue all sources of liability, including their employer, to recover the full amount of damages you deserve.