Holding Employers Responsible for Employees' Torts in Georgia

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. Based in Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia, he handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. Call him for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585.

"Respondeat superior" is a doctrine from common law which holds a party liable for his agents. In Latin the term translates to “let the master answer.” It is a way holding employers liable for the torts of their employees that are committed during their employment. This type of liability is called “vicarious liability,” in that it holds one person, for example, a corporation, liable for the acts of another, that being a single employee of the corporation.

The common law doctrine is codified in Georgia law at O.C.G.A. §§ 51-2-1 through 51-2-5.1 as applied to people (Title 51, Chapter 2 deals with imputable negligence and also includes two additional code sections dealing with holding owners or keepers of animals liable for acts of the animals). In general O.C.G.A. § 51-2-1 requires that to impute negligence from one to another, the relationship must be that of principal and agent. This is very commonly seen in the employer-employee relationship. O.C.G.A. § 51-2-2 requires, essentially, that the agent/employee must be acting within the course and scope of his employment when the tort occurs to hold the principal/employer liable.

There can be significant litigation in holding an employer liable for the acts of his employee. Sometimes the battle is whether the employee was acting within the course and scope of his employment. An example would be the service technician driving the company car with a company advertisement on the side of the car when he causes a traffic collision. If it was on the employee’s lunch break, but at a time when he was on call to respond to customer calls, you can imagine the arguments each way as to whether he was in the course and scope of his employment. You can also imagine how changing just one or two of those hypothetical facts could change the outcome of the argument. Other battles can be over whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor in which O.C.G.A. § 51-2-5 would then potentially apply.

If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of the employee or independent contractor of any business you need to speak with an attorney to protect your rights with respect to recovering for the damages. Contact attorney Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation today.

The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.