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Understanding Liability Issues When A Car Accident Occurs With A Company Vehicle

If you have been injured in an accident or if your car has sustained a great deal of damage that your insurance does not cover, then you may want to sue the other driver for damages. While some auto accident cases can be settled fairly quickly, certain things can complicate an auto accident case. This can happen if the driver that hit you was driving for work purposes at the time. In particular, liability issues may be confusing. Keep reading to learn a little about this.

Employer Negligence

The driver of the vehicle that hit you may be obviously negligent when driving. For example, if the driver was texting while driving, then there may be a clear case of distracted driving. The individual was liable and cell phone records may be used to prove this. However, if there is no clear negligence on the part of the driver, this does not mean that the driver's employer was not negligent.

Employer negligence may come into play if the employee was not properly screened for the position. For example, if the driver did not have a license or if they were hired while holding a suspended license, then the employer can be held liable for negligent hiring practices. This may also be the case if the driver was hired with a reckless driving record. Employers will typically complete a background check that includes a driving record or motor vehicle report. The simple DMV report outlines the status of an individual's license as well as information about accidents, driving points, DUI convictions and arrests, and general traffic violations. If the simple check is not performed and information on the report may have prevented the accident through the non-hiring of the employee, then the employer may need to pay for damages.

Also, if the vehicle required the use of a commercial driver's license (CDL), then the employer must make sure the proper license is held. Typically, the vehicles that require a CDL to drive are ones that exceed a specific weight. Employers should know what the regulations are when it comes to commercial vehicles and appropriate licenses. Therefore, if the license is not held, then the employer was negligent for not investigating this beforehand.

Employers may even be negligent if they fail to implement certain safety procedures and protocols that ensure the driver is acting in a safe manner. Also, appropriate supervision and training practices need to be in place as well. These practices will depend on the business and the duties of the driver, and a legal professional can look into the types of reasonable policies and provisions that should have been put into place for the specific industry. 

Vicarious Liability

Even if the employer did everything correctly, the individual still may be liable under the law. In particular, vicarious liability applies. This type of liability comes into play when an employee injures or harms another. Since the employee was acting out their normal job duties, they were acting as an agent of the business. In legal terms, each employee acting as an agent is equivalent to the business owner completing the action themselves. In other words, the employee is acting on the wishes of the employer. Since the employer is giving the orders, then the individual is liable for any injuries that occur as the job is enacted.

Vicarious liability only applies if the individual is carrying out a job duty. For example, if the employer decides to take the company car to grab some lunch and an accident occurred, then the employee may be liable for the accident. However, since the company car is used and company insurance covers the vehicle, this may also lead to some confusion. In this case, the employee's own vehicle insurance may need to cover the incident. However, this is something that your attorney will need to investigate. 

For more information and help in an accident with complex liability issues such as this, contact a professional auto accident lawyer.