If a Maryland truck accident is caused by a truck driver while driving a truck owned by their employer, it is possible that the employer will be liable for injuries that result from the crash. The employer may be liable based on its own actions—like failing to fix a broken truck or secure a load, for example—or based on vicarious liability.
Vicarious liability refers to the liability of a person or entity based on their relationship to another person or entity that acted wrongfully. The party that is vicariously liable for another’s actions does not have to have acted wrongfully in order to be held liable. Often, vicarious liability arises out of an employer-employee relationship. If an employee is negligent while acting within the scope of the employee’s employment, the employer generally is liable for the employee’s negligent actions. This means that the employer is liable for any damages that result because of the employee’s negligent actions. Acting within the scope of employment generally means acting in furtherance of the employer’s business and while carrying out an act authorized by the employer. But whether an employee was acting within the scope of employment is normally a question that a jury must decide.
Employers are often sued based on vicarious liability because they often have more financial resources than individual employees who may not be able to pay for the extent of the damages alleged in a case. In Maryland, an employer can be sued even if the employee is not sued. Though whether an employee-employer relationship exists is not always obvious. Employers may argue that a person was an independent contractor rather than an employee. In that case, courts will often look at a variety of factors including how the person was hired, how they were paid, and whether the employer could control the way the employee carried out the work.