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Employer Liability In Florida Auto Accidents

When we talk of auto accidents in Florida, we talk about each driver’s fault or one driver’s negligence. Most personal injury cases are filed against individuals. However, what is not often mentioned is that if the at-fault individual was performing duties for their job at the time of the accident, the plaintiff may be able to hold their employer liable for the accident as well.

When Can You Hold An Employer Liable?

Whether the at-fault party was working is an important detail that you should mention to your lawyer. In Florida, employers may be liable for their employees’ actions either through vicarious liability or active negligence.

Vicarious Liability

The doctrine of vicarious liability holds the employer liable for the negligent acts of their employees. This is founded on the fact that employers exercise a certain degree of control over the at-fault individual. Thus, the employer is liable along with the employee at fault.

Under the doctrine of vicarious liability, you may hold both the employer and the employee liable for the latter’s negligence if the following are met:

• The employee was on the clock at the time of the accident
• The employee was fulfilling their duties as an employee during the time (i.e. it was not a personal trip)
• The employer was to benefit or benefited from the employee’s trip

Active Negligence

Under active negligence, the employer may be held liable for the actions of the at-fault party due to their own negligence, usually in the hiring process. Lawyers bring up active negligence when they discover facts about the at-fault individual or their past that the employer should have taken into account before hiring or giving them certain responsibilities.

Choosing to hire or retain an individual previously deemed unsuitable for such a task is considered negligent as it potentially puts other people in danger. For instance, an individual with multiple speeding infractions or driving under the influence would not be suitable as a professional driver. Hiring such an individual for this type of position would be considered negligent on the part of the employer. Thus, they can be held liable for the victims’ injuries.

Why Hold An Employer Liable?

In negligence cases, it is important to bring together all potentially at-fault parties rather than focusing on just one. Aside from finding justice in holding all negligent parties liable, there are two main reasons why it’s practical to include all negligent parties in your case:

  • The at-fault parties will share responsibility in ensuring that you get paid the full amount. The defendants may engage in indemnification or contribution, which will determine the percentage of responsibility of each defendant. This means that all defendants are legally responsible for making sure that the plaintiff receives full compensation.
  • Having defendants divide the compensation is practical when the individual directly involved in the auto accident is uninsured or underinsured. Having 2 or more parties responsible for the full amount of your compensation makes it more affordable for the defendants, and thus increases your chances of getting full compensation faster and easier.

If you think that more than one person may be at fault for a recent auto accident you were involved in, give us a call.

Stephen M. Fernandez developed a strong belief in justice and fairness in public policy while earning his Political Science degree prior to attending law school. Since joining the Florida Bar Association in 2004, Stephen Fernandez has combined his background in public policy, business administration and civil law to serve as a highly effective trial lawyer fighting for Florida's injured, working hard every day to make sure his clients get what they are owed.

Employer Liability In Florida Auto Accidents

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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