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Employer Liability in Car Accidents

In a car accident, many expect that the driver who caused the wreck will be liable for the damages it caused. However, you may not realize that if the driver was in a company vehicle or on the clock at their job the employer may be held liable for the car accident as well.  There are generally two theories under which an employer can be liable for a car accident caused by someone under their employ.

Employer Negligence

Employers can be found negligent in their own right if they were either negligent in supervising their employees, or negligent in their hiring processes.  If an employer hires someone that they know will be driving a company vehicle, or driving on company business, they have to do a certain amount of due diligence, such as seeing that the person has a valid driver’s license and checking their driving records.  More prudent companies also tend to test their employees for drug and alcohol use, and spot check their driving records periodically to make sure that they are aware of any incidents that occur after hiring them.

Employers also have to properly supervise their employees while they are on the job.  They must make a reasonable effort to ensure that their drivers obey all state and federal laws, and have safety policies and procedures in effect that their employees are familiar with and follow.  Like with negligence in hiring an employee, companies need to act in a reasonable manner in regards to managing their employees actions.

Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability is the legal theory that the action of an employee is the same as if the employer committed the same action, since the employer has or should have full control of the people working for them.  Because of this, it is possible to collect from an employer of someone who injured you in an auto accident even if they themselves did nothing wrong.  For this to be effective, several criteria must be met:

  • The employee’s actions were done while they were at work.
  • The employee’s actions were within the scope of their job.
  • The employee was hired to do the work that they were doing at the time.
  • The employer benefited from the work the employee was doing at the time the accident occurred.

So if an employee causes an accident while doing an errand for their job the employer would be liable for it through vicarious liability, but if the employee had the accident while running a personal errand the employer would not be liable for it.


Employer liability helps you if you are in an automobile accident because even if you win a judgment against someone, if they don’t have the financial resources to cover it you may still end up not being compensated.  Businesses have more liquid capital than their employees, so bringing them into the lawsuit as well helps to ensure you will receive any damages you are awarded.

Contact An Attorney

If you have been in an automobile accident, retaining legal counsel quickly can greatly improve your chances of receiving the recovery you deserve.  Contact a local automobile accident attorney to discuss your potential case today.

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