The doctrine of respondeat superior (Latin for “let the master answer”) holds that an employer can be vicariously liable for the actions of an employee who is acting in the course and scope of employment.
That sounds fairly simple, but there is actually a lot to unpack in that statement. For example, vicarious liability means the company can be liable even if it didn’t directly do anything wrong. There is also the distinction between, say, an independent contractor, and an actual employee. Questions might also be raised about whether a worker was acting in the course and scope of employment, even if he or she wasn’t technically on-the-clock.
This brings us to a recent case out of California, considered by the California Court of Appeals for the Second Appellate District, Division Five. The car accident injury lawsuit involved a motorcyclist who was struck by a man driving a taxi. The taxi driver turned left into the path of the man on the motorcycle, who was ejected from his bike. The motorcyclist suffered serious injuries as a result and filed a lawsuit against not just the driver, but the the company whose insignia and branding was emblazoned on the vehicle. Continue reading