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Who can be held liable for causing a car accident?

Many Pennsylvania residents would agree that everyone should take personal responsibility for their own actions. Of course, getting others to take personal responsibility for their wrongdoing can be easier said than done.

As discussed last week in this blog, those injured in an auto accident may have the ability to obtain this accountability against those responsible for the crash. Each person owes a duty of care to everyone else on the road, including teenage drivers or any other kind of driver. Accordingly, when a person violates this duty of care, the person can be ordered to pay compensation to those injured in the accident.

In certain instances, however, liability can extend beyond the negligent driver. For example, if the owner of a car loans the car to someone who is known to be an unsafe driver, the owner could be held liable for the resulting accident caused by that driver. This can include parents of a minor driver, who can be held liable for the minor driver's accident.

Perhaps more commonly, an employer may be held liable for an employee's negligent driving of a company vehicle. Under a legal concept known as vicarious liability or respondeat superior, the employer may be held liable and ordered to pay damages along with the employee. Typically, these legal concepts apply when the employee is acting in the course of employment at the time of the crash.

Ultimately, injured persons should understand their ability to hold negligent drivers accountable. They should also determine whether other persons might be held liable in the incident, which can increase the chances of recovery by having another party available to pay damages.

Source: FindLaw, "Vicarious liability and negligent entrustment," accessed on Oct. 29, 2016

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