Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

What is respondeat superior?

The accident expenses you could face following a collision with a semi-truck or other type of commercial vehicle in Pittsburgh can be enormous. They could even place you in the position of needing to seek compensation above and beyond what is available through insurance coverage. The question is who is ultimately liable: the trucker who hit you, or the company that employs them? 

The answer to this question might seem simple: since it was the truck driver that caused the accident, only they could be liable, right? Yet a strong argument could be made that they would have never been in a position to cause your accident were they not expected to fulfill the duties of their employment. The legal doctrine of respondeat superior takes this into account. This principle (as shared by the Cornell Law School) states that employers can be held liable for the actions of their employees if those actions fall within the scope of their employment. 

Pennsylvania's standard for applying respondeat superior to a case requires that the following three elements be proven in your truck accident case

  • The actions causing the accident must be of the kind the driver was hired to perform
  • The must have occurred substantially within the time and space allotted for their employment
  • The actions must have been actuated (in part) by the purpose of serving their employers

What does this mean? Say that the driver who hit you was in the course fo completing a route when the accident happened. As completing delivery or transportation routes is considered a significant part of their employment, then their actions may be said to have been sanctioned by their employers. Thus, the employer could be held liable. 

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Toll Free: 866-466-5789
Phone: 412-567-1232
Fax: 412-391-7453
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