2011 Connecticut Code
Title 52 Civil Actions
Chapter 899 Evidence
Sec. 52-183. Presumption of agency in motor vehicle operation.

      Sec. 52-183. Presumption of agency in motor vehicle operation. In any civil action brought against the owner of a motor vehicle to recover damages for the negligent or reckless operation of the motor vehicle, the operator, if he is other than the owner of the motor vehicle, shall be presumed to be the agent and servant of the owner of the motor vehicle and operating it in the course of his employment. The defendant shall have the burden of rebutting the presumption.

      (1949 Rev., S. 7905; P.A. 82-160, S. 85.)

      History: P.A. 82-160 rephrased the section.

      Cited. 123 C. 396. Presumption avails plaintiff until trier finds proven the circumstances with reference to use of car and authority to drive it, leaving burden then on plaintiff to establish that car was being operated by agent in course of employment. Id., 459. Presumption not rebutted by mere offer of substantial countervailing evidence; jury not obliged to accept testimony offered by defendant on agency and may find for plaintiff even if he produces no evidence on that issue. 126 C. 587. Nature of this presumption; burden on defendant is restricted to rebutting the presumption. 130 C. 185; Id., 684. Plaintiff does not waive benefit of presumption of agency by introducing evidence of the fact of agency on his case in chief. 137 C. 675. Inapplicable where there is no allegation re ownership of car. 145 C. 605. If dealer's plates are affixed to motor vehicle, they constitute prima facie evidence of ownership by dealer to whom plates were issued. 151 C. 252. Cited. 155 C. 218, 221. Cited. 156 C. 194. Directed verdict for defendant was proper where plaintiff's proof showed defendant loaned her car to her nephew for his personal family use in course of which accident occurred. 157 C. 258. Presumption is not ousted by mere introduction of contrary evidence, but ceases to operate when trier finds proven facts which fairly put question in issues. Direction of verdict for defendant is generally precluded. 164 C. 277. Cited. 190 C. 774. Cited. 211 C. 555. Section creates rebuttable presumption of employer-employee relationship between owner and operator of a motor vehicle, rendering owner vicariously liable for compensatory damages arising out of negligent and reckless conduct of the operator, but not vicariously liable for punitive damages stemming from that conduct. 266 C. 822.

      Cited. 9 CA 221. Cited. 11 CA 485. Cited. 19 CA 85. Cited. 25 CA 665. Discussion of the word "owner". 61 CA 29. Trial court improperly granted defendant's motion to set aside verdict where jury reasonably could have found from evidence presented that public transit bus involved in accident was owned by defendant and that defendant did not rebut presumption arising under section that bus was operated by agent of defendant acting within the scope of his agency at the time of the accident. Id. Presumption is not ousted simply by introduction of any evidence to the contrary. 83 CA 782.

      It is unnecessary to allege agency since statute raises such presumption. 4 CS 226; but see 12 CS 279 and 14 CS 342. Presumption is not overcome by any substantial countervailing evidence but is effective until the defendant proves the truth as to what the facts are by a fair preponderance of evidence. 5 CS 20; Id., 97. Describing the defendant as "brother, agent and servant" does not waive the presumption of agency in favor of the plaintiff. 9 CS 193. Statute does not create a new kind of agency but only creates a presumption of agency susceptible to rebuttal. 12 CS 279. Cited. 14 CS 238. Cited. 15 CS 148. Cited. 16 CS 194. Allegation of ownership and operation are sufficient to raise statutory presumption of agency. 17 CS 49. Section primarily designed to apply to commercial vehicles. Id., 73. Motion for summary judgment by defendant in effect sought to deprive plaintiff of benefit of presumption; denied. 27 CS 108. Cited. 32 CS 158.

      Cited. 2 Conn. Cir. Ct. 653 (fn 2). Where a minor's vehicle is registered in the name of the father for the purpose of evading financial responsibility, the registered owner of the vehicle is estopped to deny not only ownership of the vehicle but also that the minor-owner was acting in furtherance of the business of the father when the tort occurred. 3 Conn. Cir. Ct. 591, 598. Statute does not establish that operator of car is agent of owner, acting within scope of his employment, but only creates a rebuttable presumption. 5 Conn. Cir. Ct. 113.

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