Three people were seriously injured in an Oneida County car crash that involved multiple commercial vehicles.
The wreck happened at the intersection of State Route 31 and Beacon Light Road in Verona, New York. According to the New York State Police, 25-year-old Daniel Sokol, of Endicott, was traveling eastbound on Beacon Light Road when he attempted to turn onto State Route 31 and smacked into a Birnie bus. The force of the collision pushed the bus onto the opposite side of the road, where it struck a car driven by 22-year-old Marisa Holden of Mohawk. Holden’s vehicle then careened into a culvert. First responders were forced to use the Jaws of Life to extricate Holden from the wreckage before she could be transported to a local hospital. Meanwhile, 25-year-old Nina Stoecke, a passenger in the car, was also seriously injured.
Sokol was ejected from the limo during the accident and seriously injured. If he survives his accident-related injuries, he may face criminal charges.
Whenever a bus driver, taxi driver, Uber driver, or other commercial operator causes a car crash, respondeat superior (Latin for “let the master answer”) is nearly always an issue. This third party liability theory, and other legal theories like it, is especially important if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is uninsured or under-insured. That’s because an additional defendant means an additional possible source of financial compensation for the victim.
For respondeat superior to apply, the tortfeasor must first be an employee. To determine who is an employee, most negligence courts use a variation of the Department of Labor’s definition of “employ,” which is “suffer or permit to work.”
Under this definition, almost anyone who has an official relationship with a company is an employee of that company, even if the worker is labeled as an intern, independent contractor, or something else for income tax purposes. In fact, under the standard used by the Department of Labor, even unpaid workers, like church volunteers, could be considered “employees” in some circumstances.
Additionally, in order for respondeat superior to apply, the employee must be acting within the course and scope of employment at the time of the car crash. This phrase is also defined very broadly and in a victim-friendly way. Any employee who is doing anything that benefits the employer is normally considered to be acting within the course and scope of employment. In addition to delivery drivers operating delivery trucks, employees who are running an errand, performing a property inspection, or simply driving a vehicle that has the company logo on it are generally held to be acting within the course and scope of employment.
The tortfeasor is often not the only person who is liable for damages. For a free consultation with attorneys who stand up for car accident victims, contact the legal team at Proner and Proner. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases.