Duplicative Claims Dismissed in Car Accident Case Involving Police Officer

police carGenerally speaking, when an Atlanta car accident is caused by the negligence of someone who is “on the clock” with their employer, the employer can be held vicariously liable for the resulting injuries to the plaintiff.

There are some exceptions to this general rule, and the defendant in a given case may have a good argument that it should not be held liable under a certain set of facts. Even if vicarious liability is not possible, an injured person who is hurt by someone who is purportedly acting within their employment – or, at the least, is driving an automobile owned by their employer – may have another claim, such as negligent entrustment.

An appellate court in a recent case involving a police officer explored these different types of liability, ultimately concluding that some of the plaintiff’s claims had to be dismissed as redundant in that particular case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a woman who sustained injuries when a patrol car driven by a police officer employed by the defendant city collided with an automobile in which the plaintiff was riding in 2015. According to the plaintiff, the officer had been checking the speed of motorists on the interstate using radar just before the accident. The accident allegedly occurred when the officer “abruptly pulled out” into the lane of travel of the car in which the plaintiff was riding, causing that vehicle to crash into the patrol car and overturn.

The plaintiff sued both the officer and the city, asserting claims for negligence, negligence per se, vicarious liability, negligent training, negligent supervision, and negligent entrustment. The city sought partial judgment on the pleadings on the plaintiff’s claims for negligent training, negligent supervision, and negligent entrustment, arguing that these claims were redundant because they sought recovery that was duplicative of that which was sought under respondeat superior. The trial court denied the city’s motion, and it appealed.

Decision of the Court

The Court of Appeals of Georgia reversed the trial court’s decision. According to the court, claims based on respondeat superior and claims based upon the negligent hiring, supervision, and retention of an employee such as the police officer who allegedly caused the accident at issue were derivative of the underlying tortious conduct of the employee. Since the city had admitted respondeat superior liability, and the plaintiff was not seeking punitive damages, the plaintiff’s claims for negligent hiring, training, supervision, and retention were merely duplicative of her respondeat superior claim, and the trial court should have entered judgment on the pleadings in favor of the defendant city on this issue.

Been Hurt in an Atlanta Car Wreck?

If you need legal representation following a crash caused by another driver’s negligence, the Law Offices of T. Andrew Miller, LLC, can help. To schedule an appointment to discuss your Atlanta car accident case, call us at 678-894-4758. We offer a free case evaluation, so there is no reason to delay talking to a knowledgeable injury attorney about your case. Please note that claims not filed within the statute of limitations are usually dismissed by the courts as untimely, regardless of their merits, so it is important to take action in a timely manner.

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