Court Examines Liability for Harm Caused by Other Parties Under Massachusetts Law

Under Massachusetts law, employers can be held vicariously liable for harm caused by their employees in the performance of job duties. Currently, though, the law does not allow for the imposition of liability on an employer for the negligence of an independent contractor. The limit of Massachusetts’s vicarious liability law was the topic of a recent opinion issued by a court in a fatal car accident case. If you were hurt in a collision caused by a person performing job duties, you might be able to recover damages from the person and their employer, and you should speak to a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer about your potential claims.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant trucking company entered into an agreement with the defendant truck driver, wherein the truck driver agreed to pick up a load of lumber and transport it to another location. The defendant truck driver performed his obligations under the contract and then went to drive to another location to fulfill another contract. On his way there, he proceeded through a red light and struck the decedent’s vehicle, causing fatal injuries.

It is reported that the decedent’s estate filed negligence claims against the defendants, arguing, among other things, that the defendant trucking company was vicariously liable for the defendant truck’s acts. After discovery closed, the defendant trucking company moved for summary judgment. The trial court issued a ruling in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed.

Liability for Harm Caused by Other Parties

On appeal, the trial court ruling was affirmed. The appellate court explained that there was no statute or case law in Massachusetts that allowed a party to be held vicariously liable for the acts of their independent contractor. Although the Restatement (Second) of Torts included provisions allowing for the imposition of such liability in certain cases, Massachusetts had not adopted said provisions.

Further, even if it had, the court stated that it would not allow for the imposition of liability after the completion of the contract between the employer and the independent contractor. In other words, there was simply no Massachusetts case law or statute that would allow the court to impose liability on an employer for the acts of an independent contractor after the contractor had left the control of the employer. The plaintiff did not dispute this fact but argued liability should be imposed regardless. The appellate court disagreed and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Trusted Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawyer

People that recklessly cause car crashes may be held accountable for any injuries sustained in the collisions, and in some instances, other parties may be liable as well. If you were hurt in a car accident, you have the right to seek compensation, and it is smart to confer with an attorney. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a trusted Massachusetts personal injury lawyer who can advise you of your rights and help you to seek justice for your losses. You can contact Mr. Meehan by calling 508-822-6600 or by using the form online to set up a meeting.