Some Common Vicarious Liability Theories in Car Wreck Claims

David Monteleone
Illinois Accident and Wrongful Death Lawyer

  Posted  |  Category : Personal Injury Attorneys

Personal Injury AttorneyIn Illinois, roughly 15 percent of all drivers are uninsured. The Prairie State has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the county, so many other drivers are dangerously uninsured. In the likelihood of a catastrophic injury claim, such as serious burns, spinal injuries, or wrongful death, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) may not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation.

Fortunately for victims, Illinois also has some of the broadest third-party liability rules in the country. These rules give many victims an additional source of recovery, meaning they do not need to pursue time-consuming claims against individual tortfeasors.

In many of catastrophic injury claims, medical bills often exceed $1 million. A Rockford personal injury attorney can obtain compensation for these losses and other losses.

Employer Liability

The doctrine of respondeat superior (“let the master answer”) usually applies if the tortfeasor was an Uber driver, taxi driver, bus driver, or other commercial operator. This rule has three basic prongs:

  • Employee: Employers are legally responsible for the negligent actions, or inactions, of their employees. In this context, anyone the employer controls in any meaningful way is an employee. So, this designation applies to independent contractors, owner-operators, and even many unpaid volunteers.
  • Scope of Employment: Similarly, any act which benefits the employer in any way is within the scope of employment. For example, in a workers’ compensation case, if the victim gets hurt during a company softball game, that injury occurred during the scope of employment. The employer benefits from the softball game, because it helps make employees happy and healthy.
  • Foreseeability: The car wreck must be a foreseeable result of the relationship between the boss and the worker. If the employee steals a car from the parking garage, any subsequent injury is probably not foreseeable.

Other employer liability theories include negligent hiring and negligent supervision. These theories often apply in assault and other intentional tort claims. These actions obviously do not benefit the employer, so respondeat superior is inapplicable in these circumstances.

Alcohol Provider Liability

When an intoxicated motorist causes a car crash, the source of the alcohol is an important matter. Illinois has a very broad dram shop law. This law holds commercial alcohol providers, like restaurants, grocery stores and bars, vicariously liable for car crash damages. Liability attaches if the provider illegally sells alcohol to a tortfeasor. There are several types of illegal sales:

  • Underage: If the customer is under 21, the provider is usually responsible for damages as a matter of law. Defenses like “she/he looked older” usually do not hold up in court.
  • Obviously Intoxicated: To prove this element, victim/plaintiffs may use circumstantial evidence like bloodshot eyes and unsteady balance.
  • License Violations: Commercial providers may only sell alcohol at certain times and on certain days. Additionally, some providers have suspended or invalid liquor licenses.

Social hosts who provide alcohol to minors may also be vicariously liable for car crash damages under the state’s dram shop law.

Contact Aggressive Attorneys

The tortfeasor may not be the only party who is responsible for damages. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. You have a limited amount of time to act.