4 Ways Companies May Be Liable for Employee Car Accidents
Learn when employers can be held liable for accidents caused by their employees.
Car accident liability has the potential to get pretty complicated, especially in cases where an employer might be at fault for the actions of an employee. Here are 4 possible types of cases in which you might be able to recover damages from an employer for injuries caused by their employee.
The doctrine of respondeat superior makes employers liable for a wide range of accidents caused by their drivers. All that is required is that the driver be engaged in activities that are within their scope of employment. They do not necessarily need to be driving a company vehicle.
For example, an executive who gets in an accident in his company car while driving his family to dinner on a weekend is not within his scope of employment, so employer would not be liable.
A trucker who causes an accident while hauling freight would be both in a company vehicle and within his scope of employment, so the employer should be liable.
A clerk who is driving his car on an errand for his boss is within his scope of employment even though he is in a private vehicle. If he has an accident the employer would be liable.
Any time an employee has any type of driving duty included in their job description, the employer is responsible for ensuring they are qualified to carry out this duty safely. If employers fail to run driving record checks prior to hiring and then an unlicensed employee has an accident, the employer is liable for negligent hiring. If an employee demonstrates a pattern of safety violations or other driving incidents, and the employer continues to let them drive with no additional training or discipline, this is also considered negligent behavior.
Negligent Vehicle Maintenance
In the case of a company vehicle such as a bus or delivery truck, maintenance of the vehicle is the employer’s responsibility. If inadequate maintenance causes the employee to have an accident while driving, the employer should be liable. One exception might be if they had contracted the maintenance out to a separate company.
Other Examples of Negligence
There is also room for employers to be held liable for situations in which their negligence causes an employee to have an accident. One notable example comes from a wrongful death case that was settled earlier this year for over $16 million. In this case, Alisa Prueitt was sent home by her employer for being drunk at work. While driving home, she caused an accident resulting in the death of Samuel Dale Graham. Graham’s family argued that Prueitt’s employer should share liability for the accident because they should have realized that if she was too drunk to work, she was too drunk to drive. Telling her to go home—knowing she would have to drive—was negligent. The court agreed and found the employer 65 percent liable for the accident and Prueitt 35 percent liable.
Facing a Corporate Defendant?
If you were injured in an accident where a company has full or partial liability, you may encounter very stiff resistance to your claim. Fortunately, you can get the aggressive help you need from Fernando D. Vargas.