Why Is Vicarious Liability Important In Florida?
The Sunshine State has the highest number of uninsured drivers in the country. Over a fourth of Floridians have no auto insurance at all. Moreover, Florida has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum in the country. So, thousands of other drivers in the state are dangerously underinsured.
When these individuals cause accidents, there may not be enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation. So, Brandon car crash lawyers often look to third party liability theories. These rules give victims access to an additional source of recovery.
Employer Liability in Florida
Truck drivers, taxi drivers, Uber drivers, and anyone else who carries people or goods for hire are all common carriers in Florida. Therefore, they have a higher duty of care. That status also gives rise to employer liability.
Respondeat superior (“let the master answer”) is probably the broadest and most common employer vicarious liability theory. It applies if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was:
- An Employee: All workers, even if they are technically independent contractors, are employees for negligence purposes. Furthermore, some unpaid volunteers, like a person driving a church bus, may be employees as well. Most Florida judges use the broad Department of Labor definition. It defines all these workers, and most others, as employees.
- Working in the Scope of Employment: Likewise, Brandon judges also interpret the scope of employment very broadly. Any act which benefits the employer in any way meets this standard. That even includes activity like driving an empty truck aimlessly around town, if the truck bears the company logo.
- Foreseeable Injury: It is foreseeable, albeit not necessarily likely, that anyone driving a motor vehicle could cause a car crash. It is not foreseeable that an employee may break into the motor pool and steal a car.
Other employer liability theories include negligent hiring and negligent entrustment. These doctrines often apply in intentional tort cases, like assaults.
Alcohol Provider Liability in Florida
The Sunshine State has one of the broadest dram shop laws in the country. Alcohol was once sold by the “dram,” which is where these laws got their names. In Brandon, commercial alcohol providers are liable for the damages their intoxicated patrons cause if:
- Under 21: It is illegal to sell alcohol to minors in Florida. That’s why providers are liable for civil damages in this area. Providers are usually strictly liable. Victim/plaintiffs need not prove fault; they only need to prove cause.
- Over 21: If the tortfeasor was an adult, the victim/plaintiff must establish that the provider knew the tortfeasor was habitually addicted to alcohol. Circumstantial evidence, like prior credit card receipts or statements made at the bar, are admissible to prove this point.
The dram shop law also applies to grocery stores and other packaged alcohol sales. It is legally foreseeable that a person may open a beer on the way home.
In some cases, non-commercial providers may also be liable for damages in Brandon. Negligent undertaking is the primary doctrine. If a host promises to find a ride home for an intoxicated guest yet fails to do so, the host may be liable for damages if the guest causes a car crash.
Contact Tenacious Attorneys
Vicarious liability theories help victims obtain compensation in uninsured/underinsured motorist cases. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).