According to a recent news article from ABC News, United States House Representative Paul Ryan is facing a $100,000 personal injury lawsuit as a result of his aide allegedly crashing Ryan’s SUV, injuring two people.
This accident occurred a year ago. Authorities say Ryan, current chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and former Republican candidate for Vice President, was not in the car at the time of the accident. However, plaintiffs alleged Ryan’s aide, who was driving the car at the time of the accident, was working within the scope of his employment.
Meanwhile, plaintiff was driving his vehicle and had a passenger with him. Each occupant of plaintiff’s car is suing Ryan for $50,000 under the doctrine of respondeat superior. As our Boston car accident lawyers can explain, respondeat superior is a principle of law that allows plaintiffs to sue not only tortfeasors, but also tortfeasor’s employer, so long as tortfeasor was acting within the scope of his or employer.
Based upon Ryan being a member of United States Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice is representing him in the civil car accident lawsuit. Justice lawyers filed a motion to dismiss, arguing Ryan, as a member of the federal government, is immune from a civil lawsuit absent a waiver of sovereign immunity.
Plaintiffs filed this car accident lawsuit in the District of Columbia Superior Court, which essentially acts as the state trial court for the non-federal areas of Washington, DC.
As our Boston car accident lawyers know, the doctrine of respondeat superior allows a plaintiff to sue at-fault driver’s employer. There are variety of reasons one would want to sue the employer of a tortfeasor, but it is generally because an employer or corporation is probably in a better position to pay a claim of damages than an employee.
For example, many people have liability insurance on their automobiles at the state legal minimum level. This is what the many posters on the T mean when they offer cheap insurance at state limits. If a state requires you to have $40,000 in personal injury per person, then that is what these state minimum insurance companies are selling.
An employer or corporate employer, on the other hand, likely has far more than the state required minimum in terms of liability insurance. In addition to car insurance, many employers also have an umbrella policy, known as commercial general liability insurance, which is designed to cover acts of negligence by employees in regard to third party injuries.
However, in order to collect under the doctrine of respondeat superior, plaintiff must establish employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the car accident. There are a lot of factors courts in Massachusetts will use to determine if an employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment, but it basically boils down to whether the employee was acting in his employer’s interest at the time of the accident.
If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment: 1-888-367-2900.
Paul Ryan Facing $100K Lawsuit for Aide’s Car Accident., March 11, 2015, ABC News
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Woman Run Over by Own Car at Massachusetts Hotel, June 26, 2014, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog