Car Accidents and Negligence: On Fault, Liability and Duty of Care
In most car accident cases, the key issue is determining which driver is at fault for the accident. Usually, if one driver is negligent -- that is, did not use reasonable care or caution while driving -- he or she will be at fault.
However, in some situations, the law can assign fault to someone who was not driving or even present in the car at the time of the accident. Although this sounds surprising, there are a number of common situations where this can occur.
When an Employee Drives the Car
The law holds employers responsible for wrongful acts, including negligent driving, when they are committed by an employee while the employee is performing job duties. (This comes under the theory of "vicarious liability," or "imputed negligence." When two parties have a certain relationship with one another, the law can hold one party liable for the misconduct of another.)
For example, if you are an employer and your employee runs a red light and hits another car while driving the company car during work hours, you will be responsible for the damages caused by your employee.
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