Employer Liability in Car Accident Cases
Establishing liability in car accident cases can be an extremely complicated matter involving multiple parties. If a car accident occurs when the driver is handling work duties or carrying out a task as directed by his or her employer, then the employer may also be held liable for the accident. This is often the case when a truck or a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident. Employer liability will depend on the legal reasons applicable in each case.
When an employee causes an accident, his or her employer can be held liable in two ways.
Employer Negligence: This involves negligence in hiring an employee who is not fit for the designated post, and negligent supervision of the employee. When hiring an employee to drive a company vehicle, it is the responsibility of the employer to exercise due diligence in finding out that the employee is a safe and cautious driver. Also, if the employee has to drive a commercial vehicle, he or she should possess a commercial drivers’ license. The license should hold a good standing and should not be suspended. There are some employers who go a step further and check the past driving record of the employee, and also get them tested for drug abuse.
Negligent supervision is a way in which the employer can be held liable for the actions of the employee. It is the responsibility of the employer to have proper safety practices in place and to ensure that all his or her employees follow them completely. The federal and state law requires all truck drivers to follow proper logging requirements, and to ensure that the cargo is properly weighed and loaded. It becomes the responsibility of the employer that the employed drivers follow proper procedures. In case an employer is not following proper procedures and ends up getting involved in an accident, the employer may be held liable for the accident as he or she failed to ensure that the driver complied with the set procedures.
Vicarious Liability: This is a doctrine of law which states that the actions of an agent (an employee) will be the same as that of the principle (an employer) directing the agent. This rule becomes applicable when an employee is actually performing a task for the employer at the time of the accident. For example, if an employee has been sent to a store to pick up some inventory and is involved in an accident on the way, the employer may be held liable. However, if the same employee stops for coffee on the way back, and is involved in an accident while getting the coffee, the employer will generally not be held liable as the employee was performing a personal chore.
If you have been involved in an accident where you feel employer liability may be applicable, it is essential that you consult an experienced car accident attorney. Your lawyer will be able to explain the various liability rules that can apply to your case and suggest ways to protect your legal rights considering the circumstances leading to the accident.
Call (314) 361-4242 to schedule a free and private consultation.
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