In the unfortunate event of a Maryland truck accident, if an employee was behind the wheel, in some circumstances the employer may be able held liable as well. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer may be liable for the wrongful acts of its employees, as long as the acts were committed while acting within the scope of employment. The doctrine attributes the acts to the employer even without any wrongdoing on the part of the employer. Instead, the employer is held liable based only on the employer-employee relationship. Under Maryland law, an employer may be sued without suing the employee. The doctrine is meant to hold employers accountable for the actions of an employee because the employee is acting in the employer’s interest and also because the employer often can bear the financial loss better than an employee.
One recent case before a state appellate court illustrated the limits of respondeat superior. In that case, a car crash left a woman dead and her daughter injured. The crash occurred after the tire of another car separated from the car, crossed the median and hit the mother’s car. The husband of the woman (and father of the daughter) filed lawsuits against the driver, his employer, and other parties. According to the court’s opinion, as the employee was driving, another vehicle suddenly came into his travel lane and to avoid a collision, and he quickly changed lanes, causing his tire to come off. The plaintiff claimed that the driver failed to maintain the truck in a safe operating condition and that the employer was vicariously liable. The driver recently did work on his car and had removed the wheels. The employer filed a motion for summary judgment to be dismissed, but the trial court denied the motion.
On appeal, the employer argued that the driver was not driving negligently at the time of the collision. The driver of the vehicle worked as a construction technician. That day, he drove to a warehouse for work, and then drove with a co-worker to a job site. They left the job site and were driving to a guitar store before they had to be at the next job site. He and his co-worker both said that they did not notice anything wrong with the car.