Holding a Negligent Worker’s Employer Liable in a Washington, D.C. Injury Case

Under the doctrine of respondeat superior employers can be held liable for the wrongful acts of their employees. For an employer to be liable in a Washington, D.C. injury case, an employee must have committed the wrongful act within the scope of their employment. The doctrine is meant to hold employers responsible and to aid victims in recovering compensation, as employers are often better situated to pay financial compensation.

Typically, to be within the scope of employment, the wrongful acts must be have been done at least in part to further the employer’s business, rather than solely for the employee’s own purposes. Generally, whether an employee was acting within the scope of their employment is a question for the jury to decide. A court may resolve the issue only where a reasonable juror could not find that the employee’s acts were within the scope of their employment.

In a recent case before one state’s appeals court, the court considered whether Lyft could be held liable for a driver’s accident while the driver was driving a car he rented through Lyft. The driver was on his way home in a car he had rented through Lyft’s “Express Drive program,” which allows drivers to rent vehicles pre-approved for use on the Lyft platform. The rental car could be used for driving for Lyft but could also be used for unlimited personal use. The driver had not worked for Lyft on the day of the accident, and while on his way home, the driver hit the plaintiffs’ vehicles, causing significant injuries.

The plaintiffs sued the driver and Lyft. The appeals court had to consider whether Lyft could be held liable based on whether the driver was acting within the scope of his employment with Lyft. The appeals court determined that here, the driver was not acting within the scope of his employment when the accident occurred. It held that there was no nexus between the driver’s acts and his employment with Lyft. The driver had not worked for Lyft on the day of the accident and had not planned to do so later that day. The court held that the potential for the driver to log onto the platform was not sufficient to bring all of his driving within the scope of his employment for Lyft. It also rejected the argument that Lyft’s encouragement of driving the rental for personal purposes made accidents more likely. Therefore, the court dismissed the case against Lyft.

Have You Been Injured in an Accident?

If you are dealing with the aftermath of a car crash or another accident, contact a Washington, D.C. injury attorney for immediate assistance. The compassionate advocates at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, take pride in fighting for the rights of victims. Their decades of combined experience and familiarity with complex issues mean that they will strive to achieve the best result possible in your situation. They will review the options with you and work hard to ensure that your needs are taken care of as appropriately and as quickly as possible. Contact them online or call them toll-free at (800) 654-1949.

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