By law, you are liable for any accident you cause while driving an automobile. However, company drivers aren't the only ones liable for accidents they cause; their employers may also be held responsible. Here are three situations in which you may hold a company responsible for damages caused by its driver:
The Driver Was On the Clock
If the driver was working at the time of the accident, then you can hold his or her employer responsible for your injuries under the doctrine of vicarious liability. Apart from proving that the driver was on the clock, you also need to show that he or she was engaged in the normal duties he or she was hired to perform. These three examples will explain vicarious liability better:
- A company driver hired to work from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm crashes into your car at 7:00 pm when doing unauthorized overtime. In this case, vicarious liability may not apply, because the driver was not on the clock.
- A company cleaner helps himself or herself to the company's truck to collect some cleaning supplies he or she forgot in a store five blocks away. If the truck crashes into your car, then vicarious liability may not apply because the cleaner wasn't hired to drive the truck.
- A company driver, who works from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, crashes into your car at 11:00 am while running for his or her employer. In this case, the employer may be liable for the damages under the vicarious liability legal principle.
The Driver Isn't Fit to Drive
A company that hires a driver who isn't fit to drive may be liable for all accidents caused by the driver. Therefore, you can hold the company responsible for your injuries and damages if you can prove that the driver is a product of negligent hiring.
For example, if the driver does not have a commercial driving license, then you can hold the company liable for your accident. This is because the license certifies the competence of commercial truck drivers, and its absence may mean the driver isn't competent.
The Driver Wasn't Under Supervision
Lastly, the company may also be liable for your injuries if it failed to supervise the driver, and the lack of supervision is linked to the crash. Consider a case in which a driver drinks on the job (despite numerous warnings), but the supervisor looks the other way because he or she figures it is too much work to discipline the driver or get a new employee. If the driver's drinking is linked to the accident, then you can claim your damages from the company using the doctrine of negligent supervision.
Contact a law office such as Stillman & Stillman P.C. to learn more.