Funerals have taken place for those who died in one of the worst New Hampshire motorcycle accidents in recent history. Several motorcyclists are still being treated for their life-threatening injuries. It was June 21 in Randolph, New Hampshire, when Volodymyr Zhukovsky crossed the double-yellow line and collided with a group of bikers, which included marines and their spouses.
As it turns out, Zhukovsky – who now faces 7 counts of vehicular homicide shouldn’t have even had a license to drive … and yet, he did, and now 7 people are dead because of it. Someone failed. The system failed. The troubling fact is this: he didn’t only have a personal license but a commercial license, too. To add insult to injury, he has arrest records in six states, some of which involve drugs and others that involve traffic infractions. Further, he was involved in a rollover crash at the start of June in Baytown, Texas.
Now, one of the victims – Joshua Morin – still undergoing treatment for serious injuries is suing. But he’s not just suing Zhukovsky; he’s suing Westfield Transport, too, which is the transportation company that employed him. The victim’s lawyer also says they intend to file a lawsuit against the state agency that failed to revoke Zhukovsky’s commercial license in light of his very questionable driving and arrest records.
Aside from the potential lawsuit against a state agency, can an employer be sued for the actions of the driver while the latter drives in Maine? Yes.
How can an employer be liable for an employee-driver’s actions that lead to a truck accident with motorcyclists?
The legal doctrine that addresses a company’s liability for its driver’s conduct is known as “respondent superior.” This doctrine provides that an employer can be held responsible for a driver-employee causing an accident when the accident was committed within the scope of employment and was unintentional.
Here, it is unclear with the facts we have if Zhukovsky was “working” at the time of the accident. Further, it is unclear if the act was purely an accident or if there was some intent involved as reports state Zhukovsky had been suicidal.
Zhukovsky – in his defense – will likely claim it was purely an accident but his employer, as a co-defendant, will likely attempt to shift the blame solely on Zhukovsky and attempt to show it was intentional (if indeed Zhukovsky was working at the time the accident occurred).
The lawsuit against the trucking company also claims negligence on the part of the company for hiring Zhukovsky in the first place. A successful claim on this argument will depend on the facts. When was Zhukovsky hired and what was his record at the time he was hired? Would a reasonable “person” – in this case, a trucking company – have hired Zhukovsky?
At Tenn And Tenn, P.A., we know how important it is for these injured motorcyclists to get the compensation they deserve. We have extensive experience in motorcycle accident and personal injury or wrongful death claims. We are here to answer your questions in this time of mourning among fellow bikers.