Transportation Company Found Liable for Driver's Negligent Acts

August 18, 2014

When an employee acts negligently and causes injury to another person, sometimes the employer of that employee can be held liable in a Kentucky personal injury action. That is exactly what happened in a recent case in front of the Supreme Court of Kentucky.

handicapped-410035-m.jpgMV Transport v. Allgeier: The Facts
Back in 2006, Allgeier was a passenger on a para-transit bus that was fitted with a lift to help passengers with boarding and exiting the bus. The ramp, under normal conditions, operates to lift people in wheelchairs from the ground onto the passenger level of the bus, and vice-versa.

On one occasion, however, the lift malfunctioned and there was a gap between the bus and the metal plate of the lift. The bus driver failed to see the gap and allowed Allgeier to attempt to disembark the bus, although it was unsafe to do so. As she tried to disembark, Allgeier's wheelchair got caught in the gap, and she eventually fell onto the ground below, shattering both femurs.

Due to MV Transport policies as well as the bus driver's negligence, emergency responders were not immediately called. As a result, Allgeier lay in extreme pain for nearly 40 minutes until emergency responders showed up.

At trial, Allgeier was awarded nearly $75,000 in actual damages and $4,100,000 in punitive damages, assessed against MV Transport for the driver's negligence.

On Appeal
On appeal, MV Transport complained of several errors at trial, including the admission of evidence suggesting that the driver of the bus was once in an alcohol recovery program. The Court dismissed the defendant's claim, explaining that while evidence of past alcoholism may not always be admissible, it is here to show the credibility of the bus driver.

MV Transport also argued that, because they admitted that they were liable for their negligent employee's actions, they could not also be held independently liable to Allgeier under a negligent hiring theory. While other jurisdictions may bar a plaintiff from asserting a claim against both the negligent employee and another against the employer for negligent hiring, under Kentucky law a plaintiff is permitted to do so. The Court noted that it was a close call, but that this interpretation fits in better with Kentucky law.

Have You Been Injured in a Kentucky Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Kentucky accident that you believe was caused by the negligence of another, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on who caused the accident and the specific circumstances, you may be able to seek compensation from several parties, as the plaintiff did above. It is important for plaintiffs to make sure and add all potentially liable parties to a lawsuit initially, since Kentucky accident plaintiffs generally only get one chance to bring their case. Click here, or call 502-583-2300 to schedule a free initial consultation today with a dedicated Kentucky personal injury attorney.

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