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What is the Respondeat Superior Doctrine?

By Butler Prather LLP on July 13, 2022

Respondeat superior is a Latin term used to describe a facet of personal injury law under which an employer becomes responsible for the negligence or omission of an employee. In other words, this is where the idea of vicarious liability comes from. Here, we want to discuss how respondeat superior could apply in various situations.

Defining Respondeat Superior

Respondeat superior is a legal doctrine commonly used in tort claims that means an employer or another principal could be liable for the actions of their employees or agents, if the wrongful action occurs within the scope of their duties.

For most purposes, these types of claims arise when an individual that causes and injury while they are carrying out job-related duties for an employer or another individual or entity. Most jurisdictions use a few tests to prove respondeat superior, including one or the following:

  1. Benefits test. When an employee’s recreational or social endeavors on the employer’s premises after hours are endorsed by said employer, or if the employee has express or implied permission of the employer, or if these events are of some nature beneficial to the employer, then the employer could be held liable for any harm resulting from the employee’s actions.
  2. Characteristics test. If the actions of the employee are common enough for the job they hold that the action would be deemed characteristic of employment, then the employer will be held responsible for any harm resulting from the employee’s actions.

It is important to point out that the doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply to independent contractors, only employees. However, many employers illegally misclassified employees as independent contractors, but that is an entirely different topic and would have to be investigated by your attorney.

How This Could Affect Your Case

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of an individual, there may be more than one liable party depending on the circumstances. You need to work with a skilled personal injury lawyer in Georgia who can fully investigate every aspect of your claim, and this includes delving into every possible liable party.

If the person who caused your injury did so while on their employer’s property or while carrying out job-related duties, then their employer may be held responsible for their actions. In fact, the employer may be held entirely responsible depending on the circumstances. For example, federal employees will not be held responsible for their actions if they are carrying them out during the course of job-related duties. In this situation, it will be necessary to file a claim against the government entity that the individual works for.

When pursuing compensation from in negligent individual or their employer, you may be able to recover various types of compensation. This includes, but is not limited to, coverage of all medical expenses related to the incident, lost income if you cannot work well recovering, various out-of-pocket losses, property damage expenses, pain and suffering damages, and more. The total amount of compensation you receive will vary depending on factors related to each particular situation, and your Atlanta personal injury attorney will work with trusted economic and financial experts to determine an adequate amount.

Posted in: Personal Injury

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