Are Employers Responsible for Car Accidents Caused by their Employees?
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Car accidents can cause a disruption to your life as you are faced with recovering from injuries you may have received from the accident as well as repairing or replacing any damaged property. Adding to the confusion during the aftermath of a car accident could be the difficulty of seeking compensation and determining who might be liable for your injuries and losses.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, call the car accident lawyers from Zinda Law Group at (512) 246-2224 for a free consultation. If we are not able to reach a favorable settlement in your case, you will not owe us anything.
When are Employers Liable for Car Accidents?
Owner Liability/Vicarious Liability
Employers may be liable for car accidents if the employer owns the vehicle driven by the employee who caused the accident. The employer may also be liable under something called the theory of vicarious liability if the accident occurred while the employee was acting within the “scope of employment.” Here, the employee must have been “on the job” and acting within the scope of employment.
If the employee was not currently working at the time of the accident or was not presently acting for the benefit of the employer, the employer might not be liable for the accident. However, if the employer received any benefit from the employee’s actions, even if the employee was mostly engaged in a personal errand, the employer may still be found liable for the accident under vicarious liability.
Negligent Hiring and Retention
The employer may also be liable for the car accident under a theory of negligent hiring and retention if the employer hired the driver despite being aware of the employee’s record of poor driving habits or unsafe driving conduct. For example, a company may be held liable if the driver was hired despite having a record of previous accidents or received numerous traffic tickets before being hired.
Further, the employer may be liable under a theory of negligent training if the employee was not properly trained to operate the motor vehicle on behalf of the employer. This theory is especially common when the employee was driving large commercial vehicles, such as delivery vehicles or semi-trucks.
Unsafe Employer Policies
Finally, an employer could also potentially be liable for a car accident if the employer’s policies were unsafe or may have contributed to the accident. For example, an employer policy requiring its employees to follow strict time limits on deliveries, to answer phone calls immediately even while driving, or any other policy that may increase the risk that the employee may cause an accident, may impose liability on the employer. If the employer knew or reasonably should have known that its policies could increase the danger of an accident, that employer could potentially be liable for such an accident as a result.
When are Employers Not Liable for Car Accidents?
Employers are not always liable for car accidents involving employees, sometimes even if the employee is driving a company vehicle. While every case is unique, the employer is generally not liable for accidents that occur when
- the employee is commuting to and from work.
- the employee was running a personal errand, even if the errand was being performed during the employee’s work hours or while using the employer’s vehicle.
- The employee is using the company car during time off the job
- the employee was committing a crime at the time of the accident.
How to File a Claim
1. Contact a Car Accident Attorney
One of the first steps in pursuing compensation for your injuries from your car accident is to contact an experienced car accident lawyer to help you understand your options and the legal process for seeking compensation after an accident. The sooner that you contact an experienced attorney, the sooner your lawyer may be able to investigate the accident and gather evidence to potentially help you prove the employee’s liability or liability on the part of the driver’s employer.
If you have hired a lawyer to help you seek compensation, your attorney may begin the process by investigating the car accident to determine who may be liable for your injuries and damages, including whether the other driver may be liable, as well as whether the other driver’s employer may be liable. This investigation may include collecting available evidence such as witness statements, photographs of the vehicles and accident scene, insurance information, police reports, and other relevant information. Your lawyer may also investigate whether the at-fault driver was driving in the course of his or her employment at the time of the accident.
After filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver’s employer and/or the at-fault driver, your lawyer may engage in discovery. This stage allows your lawyer to obtain information and records from the driver or employer, such as employment records, the driver’s accident history, company policies, and other information that may be relevant to your claim. This discovery may take the form of written questions or interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions, as well as oral or written depositions.
After gathering enough information and evidence, your accident attorney may then attempt to negotiate with the driver, the employer, or any involved insurer. During this negotiation, your lawyer might make an offer to settle the case. The other party may reject this initial offer and respond with a counteroffer. Both sides may then negotiate back and forth until an agreement is reached that is satisfactory to each side.
However, if your attorney is unable to negotiate a satisfactory settlement with the other party or parties, the lawyer may take your case to trial to pursue any compensation you may be entitled to. At trial, your lawyer may attempt to show the other driver was at-fault for the accident which caused your injuries and damages. Alternatively, your attorney may attempt to establish the driver’s employer is also liable for your injuries.
If the other driver was at-fault for your accident, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. This compensation may consist of economic and non-economic damages, including:
Medical bills including the cost of diagnosing and treating your injuries, as well as ambulance or hospital fees, the cost of any necessary therapy and medication, and future treatment required to treat your injuries may all be considered as part of the compensation for the accident.
You may be entitled to compensation for the cost of repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle.
Loss of Income
If, as a result of your accident, you were unable to work for any length of time due to your injuries, you may be entitled to seek compensation for these lost wages.
Loss of Earning Potential
If the injuries you sustained as a result of the accident left you no longer capable of performing your job duties or capable of working as much or otherwise capable of earning the same level of income in the future, you may also be able to pursue compensation for this loss of earning potential and ability to earn income.
Pain and Suffering
You may also be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you suffered as a result of the injuries you sustained from the car accident. Compensation for pain and suffering often varies and is generally based on the severity of your injuries as well as their impact on your overall quality of life.
Statute of Limitations
With personal injury claims, including car accident cases, there is a legal time limit within which you must file any lawsuit seeking compensation. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. While the statute of limitations for car accidents varies from state to state, it generally ranges between one to six years, and will typically mirror the state’s statute of limitations for other personal injury claims. The statute of limitations will generally begin to run from the date of your accident. This means that if your state has a statute of limitations that is two years, you will have two years from the date of your accident in which to file any potential claims seeking compensation.
CALL A CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER TODAY
At Zinda Law Group, our car accident attorneys assist clients with their car accident claims. We help our clients pursue the maximum compensation they may be entitled to as a victim of a car accident, and are not afraid to go after any party that may be liable.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.