Often times Maryland lawyers who represent injured victims are faced with the real world problem of collecting on an otherwise valid claim. This arises in situations where the plaintiff/ victim is injured by a person who does not have any assets or insurance. When the defendant causes the injury while working, the experienced plaintiff’s attorney will immediately look to recover (or collect) from the employer or his insurance policy. This is known as the doctrine of Respondeat Superior.
Respondeat Superior comes from the idea that where one of two innocent persons must suffer for the wrong of a third, it should be the one who enabled the third to do the wrong. In order to hold the employer liable for the injuries to a third person through the negligence of the employee the Plaintiff must show (1) that the employer had control or right of control over the employee; (2) that the action was within the scope of the employee’s employment; (3) the action was in furtherance of the employer’s business. It might also be necessary to show that the employer knew, or should have known of the need to control the employee.
The general test for determining whether an act is with in the scope of employment was set forth in Hopkins C. Co. v. Read Drug & C. Co., 124 Md. 210, 214, 92 A. 478, 479-80 (1914). “The simple test is whether they were acts within the scope of his employment; not whether they were done while prosecuting the master’s business, but whether they were done by the servant in furtherance thereof, and were such as may be fairly said to have been authorized by him. By “authorized” is not meant authority expressly conferred, but whether the act was such as was incident to the performance of the duties entrusted to him by the master, even though in opposition to his express and positive orders.” (quoting from Wood on Master and Servant § 279 (1877)). Accord, e.g., Wood v. Abel, 268 Md. 214, 227, 300 A.2d 655, 671-672 (1973); Drug Fair v. Smith, 263 Md. 341, 350, 283 A.2d 392, 397 (1971); LePore v. Gulf Oil Corp., 237 Md. 591, 595, 207 A.2d 451, 453 (1965); Lewis v. Accelerated Express, 219 Md. 252, 255, 148 A.2d 783, 785 (1959); E.Coast Lines v. M. & C. C. of Balto., 190 Md. 256, 285, 58 A.2d 290, 303-04 (1948).
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