Employer Liability For Employee Auto Accidents
November 15, 2020
Getting into a vehicle can be a scary experience for a driver and their passengers. Unfortunately, the aftermath of an accident can be incredibly confusing, particularly if the at-fault driver was operating a commercial vehicle or was performing on-the-job duties at the time the incident occurred. Determining liability in the aftermath of a vehicle accident is difficult enough, but is even more challenging when the liability may fall on the employer. Here, we want to discuss employer liability in vehicle accident cases.
Vicarious Liability in These Cases
If a driver who causes an accident was using the vehicle involved for business purposes, then it is very likely that the driver’s employer can be held liable for the resulting injuries and damage expenses. This will be true whether or not the employer is a private individual, a company, or a public entity. This can include a range of scenarios, from a pizza delivery driver getting into an accident while delivering food to a city bus driver causing an accident on their route.
Holding an employer responsible for the actions of an on the job employee is done through the theory of vicarious liability. Specifically, we will be looking at one type of vicarious liability called respondeat superior, which literally means “let the master answer.”
When this form of vicarious liability applies, an employer will be held liable for the employee’s negligent actions or omissions that were committed during the course and scope of their employment duties.
Therein lies the key to vicarious liability in these situations – the employee must be performing their actual work duties at the time the incident occurs in order for the employer to be held liable. If an employee is off duty at the time an incident occurs, it will be more difficult to hold the employer responsible for their actions if they cause harm to another.
One limitation of respondeat superior is that the at-fault party must be an actual employee of the employer. Often, commercial drivers are classified as independent contractors by the employer in order to avoid liability concerns just like this. However, the courts will consider multiple factors when determining whether an employee-employer relationship exists for the purpose of vicarious liability.
Determining vicarious liability is crucial in these situations because the insurance policies and financial resources of the employer will likely be much larger than those of the individual responsible for the accident in the first place. In other words, an injury victim may be able to recover more financial compensation if they or their attorney are able to hold the employer vicariously liable.
Work with a Skilled Attorney for Help with Your Case
If you or somebody you care about has been injured in an accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of another driver, seek legal assistance as soon as possible. An Orange County car accident attorney can use their resources to conduct a complete investigation into the incident to determine all liable parties, including any vicariously liable employers. Most injured individuals do not have the resources or legal expertise necessary to do this on their own, but an attorney will be able to guide you through the entire process.
How Soon After a Car Accident Should I See a Doctor?
Getting involved in a car accident can be a scary experience, particularly if you or a passenger have sustained injuries. One of the most important things that any accident victim can do is to seek medical care soon after the incident occurs. Often, car accident injury victims do not feel any pain right away and make a choice to forgo seeking medical care. This could seriously jeopardize their well-being as well as any injury claim made to an insurance carrier.
Seek Medical Care Right After an Accident Occurs
If you or somebody you care about has been involved in an accident, it is crucial that you seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Often, injury victims do not have a choice in this matter because the injuries are so severe. Any life-threatening or significant injuries need to be treated by emergency medical personnel. Victims who sustain severe injuries need to go to the hospital in an ambulance so they can receive prompt emergency room care.
However, the signs and symptoms of many car accident injuries do not appear until hours or even days after the incident occurs. This is often due to the rush of adrenaline that a person receives when a crash occurs. This adrenaline can mask potential injuries. However, as time goes on, even seemingly minor or unseen injuries may become more severe. That is why it is crucial that all accident injury victims seek medical assistance as soon as possible. If an injury victim chooses not to take an ambulance to the hospital, they should have somebody else drive them to an emergency clinic or to their family doctor for an evaluation. A doctor needs to be the one to conduct an examination and determine whether or not you need further medical treatment.
Get Prompt Medical Care for Your Well Being and Your Insurance Claim
Receiving medical care soon after an accident occurs accomplishes two goals:
- You are ensuring your well-being by letting a doctor perform an examination.
- You are establishing a direct connection between the accident and any injuries you sustained.
If you delay medical care for any reason but then later determine that you have indeed sustained an injury, an insurance carrier is going to heavily scrutinize any delay between the accident and your medical visit. An insurance carrier may even try to say that something else caused your injuries and not the car accident itself.
Continue All Follow Up Care
It is crucial that car accident injury victims continue all medical treatment prescribed by a doctor until they have reached maximum medical improvement. Anytime a car accident injury victim discontinues medical care against the advice of their doctor, they risk the insurance carrier using this as a reason to justify lowering the amount of money they pay in a settlement or even to deny a claim.
Work with an Injury Attorney for Help With Your Case
If you or a loved one are injured in an accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of somebody else, seek legal assistance as soon as possible. An attorney can use their resources and legal expertise to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and properly calculate your total expected losses. An attorney will handle all negotiations with other parties on your behalf in order to obtain the compensation you need.