Employer Liability in Motor Vehicle Accidents

by webforjason on December 14, 2012

Sometimes a car accident isn’t the fault of an individual, but the company they work for. If a person is driving a vehicle while performing work-related activities on behalf of his or her employer, there may be employer liability involved.

Determining whether or not an employer is liable will depend on whether there is justification for assigning legal responsibility on the employer. There are two main examples of when an employer is held liable for a trucking accident: negligence on the part of the employer and vicarious liability.

Employer Negligence

An employer can be deemed negligent if they don’t take reasonable care or do their due diligence with ensuring their new employee is a safe and properly licensed driver. If an employee will be driving a commercial vehicle owned by the employer, the company must make sure their employee has a valid commercial driver’s license.

Another example of employer negligence is when employee supervision isn’t performed properly. Companies must have safety policies in place and need to make sure their drivers comply with safety laws. For instance, federal and state law requires specific logging procedures for drivers and that cargo is weighed and loaded properly.

Vicarious Liability

While vicarious liability doesn’t necessarily mean an employer is negligent, the law does assert that the actions of an employee are essentially the same as the actions of the principle directing the employee.

For instance, if an employer instructs their employee to do something, it’s as if the employer is doing it themselves. If the employee voluntary diverts from their instructions and gets in an accident, then liability by the employer is unlikely. There are also potential additional exceptions depending on the specifics of each scenario, which would need to be determined by a personal injury attorney who better understands the nuances of the law.

Whether you need a trucking accident attorney in Portland, OR (my home area), or anywhere else in the U.S., it is important to discuss the details of a case if you were involved in an accident while performing tasks on behalf of your employer. This also holds true for employers who believe they are innocent of any liability in a motor vehicle accident.




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