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University of Missouri Bulletin Law Series

Authors

Conly Purcell

Document Type

Comment

Abstract

Generally speaking, absent statutory change, an owner of an automobile is responsible for injuries resulting from its negligent operation by another, only if it is shown that, at the time of the injury, the relationship of principal and agent or master and servant existed between the owner and the operator, and that the operator was then acting in the scope of his employment. Ordinary human experience and knowledge show clearly that in the great majority of cases automobiles are operated by their owners or by some servant or agent on the owner's business. It is equally apparent that in the cases where this is false, the knowledge of the facts and the ability to show them are peculiarly in the cognizance of the owner. Understanding this, the great majority of the courts of the United States recognixe that it is desirable and fair to aid the plaintiff in establishing his case by giving him the assistance of some sort of a presumption of the agency of the driver and that he was in the scope of his employment-either from ownership of the automobile alone, or from ownership plus some other related fact.Generally speaking, absent statutory change, an owner of an automobile is responsible for injuries resulting from its negligent operation by another, only if it is shown that, at the time of the injury, the relationship of principal and agent or master and servant existed between the owner and the operator, and that the operator was then acting in the scope of his employment. Ordinary human experience and knowledge show clearly that in the great majority of cases automobiles are operated by their owners or by some servant or agent on the owner's business. It is equally apparent that in the cases where this is false, the knowledge of the facts and the ability to show them are peculiarly in the cognizance of the owner. Understanding this, the great majority of the courts of the United States recognize that it is desirable and fair to aid the plaintiff in establishing his case by giving him the assistance of some sort of a presumption of the agency of the driver and that he was in the scope of his employment-either from ownership of the automobile alone, or from ownership plus some other related fact.

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