As Connecticut residents are well aware, tragedy can strike at any moment. One negligent or distracted driver can sadly take the lives of one or even many. This may be what occurred on a sad day in New London in 2007, when a car accident on Interstate 95 in East Lyme killed three people. Five years later a jury deliberated on the facts of the civil suit and awarded $15.7 million to the family members.
Sources report that on this tragic day, a tanker truck traveled over the median near the I-395 interchange crashing into southbound traffic. The tanker truck was carrying 7,000 gallons of fuel at the time of the incident. According to witnesses, the driver of the tanker truck, who was killed in the accident, appeared to be racing another truck driver.
The jury found Northeast Carriers, the owner of the tanker, to be negligent and reckless. When it comes to a civil suit against an employer and owner of a company there are often two ways in which that entity might be held responsible for an auto accident involving their vehicle and employee. First, if there is found to have been a defect or safety hazard involved in the vehicle itself which caused the accident, the company could be liable on the basis of failure to maintain and inspect the product.
Alternatively, if it is the employee’s negligent behavior that caused the accident, the company could be found liable upon the doctrine of respondeat superior. Such a concept holds an employer responsible for the foreseeable behavior of its employees if such behavior is enacted within the scope of employment. Often, the only type of behavior not subject to such an analysis is the intentional behavior of an employee. Thus, if the truck driver had intentionally hit head on traffic that tragic day in 2007, no claim based on respondeat superior against the employer could be brought.
These legal concepts are often deeply complicated. It is important to be adequately represented in any civil litigation against a potentially negligent party.
Source: Claims Journal, “Connecticut Jury Awards $15.7M in Fatal Crash Lawsuit,” April 29, 2013.