Court Determines Delivery Driver Is Not an “Employee” in Recent Car Accident Case

Being involved in a Washington, D.C. car accident can be a traumatic experience. Aside from the obvious concerns of physical injuries and emotional distress, car accident victims often find themselves in financial hardship. Thankfully, car accident victims are often able to pursue financial compensation from those responsible for the accident through a Washington, D.C. personal injury lawsuit.

Determining which parties to name in a lawsuit is not necessarily as easy as naming the other drivers involved in the accident. In fact, naming only the other drivers can be a major mistake. For example, in many cases, third parties can also be named in a lawsuit, not only increasing the chances of a favorable verdict but also increasing the chances of being fully compensated for any injuries sustained.

The doctrine of vicarious liability permits accident victims to name third parties in some situations. Essentially, vicarious liability allows a plaintiff to hold one person or entity responsible for another person’s actions. A common example is when an employee is involved in an accident while on the clock. In some cases, the employer can also be liable for any injuries sustained. However, as a recent case illustrates, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the relationship between the employee and the employer is sufficient to impose liability on the employer.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident allegedly caused by a delivery driver. At the time of the accident, the delivery driver was working for the defendant. The contract signed by the delivery driver and the company characterized the driver as an “independent contractor” rather than an employee.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the company that hired the delivery driver, arguing that it should be responsible for the negligent acts of the driver. The plaintiff noted that the driver wore a company uniform and name tag at the time of the accident.

The company responded by claiming that the driver was not an employee but an independent contractor, and therefore it could not be held liable for his negligence. The company referred to the contract it had signed with the delivery driver, which stated that the driver was to use his “independent judgment and discretion” in making the deliveries, and the company would exercise no control over how the driver completed the deliveries. The contract also stated that the driver was responsible for obtaining his own car insurance and that he would be responsible for all of his own operating expenses. The company did not treat the driver as an employee for tax purposes.

The court determined that under these facts, the driver was not an employee, and therefore the company could not be held liable for any negligence of the driver. The court explained that the company treated the driver as an independent contractor in all other ways, and the fact that the driver wore a uniform and name tag would not change the court’s analysis. As a result, the plaintiff’s case against the company was dismissed.

Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Washington, D.C. car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While naming third parties in a car accident lawsuit will not always be practicable, it would be an error to overlook the possibility of naming additional parties. The skilled Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys at the Maryland and Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience handling all types of personal injury cases, and we know where to look to find potentially liable third parties, increasing our clients’ chances of a full and fair recovery. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Upholds Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Verdict Against Hospital, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, September 4, 2017

Court Discusses Expert Witness Testimony in Recent Car Accident Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, August 2, 2017

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