In a recent case in New Jersey, a pedestrian was struck by a city bus in an intersection. The bus’ impact caused catastrophic injuries to the pedestrian including permanent brain injury, as well as multiple fractures and broken bones.
What is as, if not more, troubling about this accident is that the driver of the bus had a record of being involved in over 50 accidents during his 30-year course of driving for his employer. What’s more, the driver had over 40 violations during his employment for issues ranging from distracted and careless driving, driving with a suspended license, and failing to follow police instructions. Yet, the bus company allowed the driver to continue to drive buses despite the egregious driving record the employee had. When this happens, an employer can be held responsible for their employee’s negligence.
Under Georgia law, and in most states as well, if an employee commits a negligent act while on the job, the employer can be liable for their employee’s negligence under the theory of respondeat superior. An employer can also be held independently liable for injuries caused by their employee’s actions under the theory of negligent hiring, supervision or retention. If the injury victim can prove that the employer knew or should have known that the employee had the tendency to engage in certain behaviors, such as careless driving, and that the accident and injuries were caused by similar behavior, the employer can be liable for failing to properly hire, supervise or retain the employee.