Articles Tagged with vicarious liability

Following most car accidents, the victim has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver in state court. What happens when the negligent driver is an employee of the federal government acting in their official capacity? To put it another way, can you sue a federal worker for an auto accident the worker caused when he or she was on the job?

The short answer is no, you cannot sue the employee directly. The longer answer is that you can bring a personal injury claim against the United States government. Under a law known as the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), the U.S. government waives its normal immunity from being sued in its own courts and effectively “steps into the shoes” of the negligent employee. The FTCA basically allows you to sue the federal government and recover damages under state personal injury law.

There are certain rules you must follow before bringing a lawsuit under the FTCA. Normally, you must first file an administrative claim with the federal agency that employed the negligent worker. This administrative claim must be filed within two years of the original accident or injury and include the exact amount of money you are seeking in damages.

It is a well-established principle of Georgia personal injury law that an employer can be held legally responsible for the negligent acts of its employees. In other words, if you are injured in a car accident because a delivery van ran a red light, you can sue the company that owns the delivery van for damages. This is known as “vicarious liability.”

What happens when a teenager drives his or her parents’ car and causes an accident? Vicarious liability can also apply in these cases under a rule known as the “family purpose doctrine.” As explained by the Georgia courts, the doctrine holds that “the owner of an automobile who permits members of his household to drive it for their own pleasure or convenience is regarded as making such a family purpose his ‘business.’” So, by letting your child use your car, you are creating a “master-servant” relationship similar to when an employer authorizes an employee to use a company-owned vehicle.

Doby v. Bivins