Automobile Accidents: A Look at The Employers Liability

When an employee is in charge of a car during work hours, and is performing a work function, there could be employers liability involved if that person gets into an automobile accident. This typically comes into play with commercial vehicles or trucks, when the driver is at fault in an accident and the employer is sued as a result. Does the employer have to pay damages? This depends on whether the employer is found to be responsible for what happened.

Employers Liability

When can an employer be found liable for this type of car accident? There are two situations that apply as employers liability. One is if the employer was negligent and the other is called vicarious liability.

Employer Negligence

An employer can be found negligent if they hire an individual, with the understanding that the person will be driving a car, and they do not look into that person’s record to determine if they are equipped to operate the vehicle.

First, the employer needs to determine if the employee has a commercial license that is not expired or suspended for any reason. It is also a good idea for the employer to look into the employee’s driving record. A drug test may also be wise in this situation.

In addition, an employer can be found negligent if they do not supervise the employee properly. For instance, they must outline safety policies and check to see that everyone is in compliance with safety laws. For instance, if the employee is a truck driver, the employer needs to check to ensure that the drivers are in compliance with the logging requirements. They also need to ensure that the cargo is weighed and put on the truck in the right way. If the employer simply leaves these tasks up to the employee, without putting in a system of checks and balances, they could be found negligent in the event of an accident as employers liability.

Vicarious Liability

In this situation, the employer does not need to be negligent in order for them to be responsible. Vicarious liability means that what the employee does is basically the same as what the employer does. The employer is known as the “principle.” When they give their employees an instruction, and those employees act on that instruction, it is the same as if the employer engaged in the action themselves. However, in order for this to be the case, the employee has to be doing something for the employer when the accident occurs.

For instance, if the employee is asked to go and get printer ink, and he gets into an accident coming back from the store, the employer might be liable because the employee was completing a task based on the employer’s instructions. However, if the employee decides to stop at his house to pick up his lunch, and he gets into an accident on the way there, the employer likely will not be found responsible because he did not tell the employee to go to his house. In addition, the employer is not at fault if the employee decides to act badly out of his own free will. For example, if for some reason the employee determines that he wants to hit another car, and he does so, that is not the employer’s fault.

Hiring a Lawyer

If you think that employers liability applies in your case, speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. The attorney will discuss liability laws with you and will review whether they are applicable in your situation. They will also talk to you about how you can protect your rights, depending on what happened.

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