Two men have filed personal injury lawsuits against a driver and his employer in Kanawha County, West Virginia. The plaintiffs were injured in a car accident in 2011 that they say was caused by the negligence, carelessness and recklessness of the driver while he was on the job.
According to court documents, one plaintiff was driving and the other was a passenger when the defendant, failing to yield the right of way, collided with their vehicle. When officers arrived at the scene, they conducted field sobriety tests on the defendant; the results showed 0.116 percent blood alcohol content, well over the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Both plaintiffs sustained serious injuries in the crash. For the plaintiff who was behind the wheel, the injuries included herniated discs that required complicated surgery to repair. He also suffered a broken bone in his foot as well as vision impairment. The passenger also sustained back and neck injuries as well as a broken hip.
Under certain circumstances, the law allows a plaintiff to sue both an individual and that individual's employer. The general rule is that the individual must have been "acting within the scope of employment" -- that is, doing something that is part of his job or is on behalf of his employer -- at the time of the accident. For example, if the driver of a delivery van is on his regular route when he runs a stop sign, he is acting within the scope of his employment; so, the plaintiff can name both the driver and the employer as defendants.
In this case, the plaintiffs contend that the company was negligent in hiring and continuing to employ the driver, and for allowing the driver to operate the company's vehicle. Because the plaintiffs believe all of these negligent actions contributed to the accident and the injuries that resulted, they have named the company as a defendant.
The plaintiffs are asking for economic damages to cover their medical costs and noneconomic damages, to compensate them for the pain and suffering they have endured as a result of the crash. They are also asking for punitive damages.
Source: The West Virginia Record, "Men say Baker Hughes employee was drinking, driving," Kyla Asbury, Sept. 4, 2012
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