Is My Business Responsible if Our Driver in an Accident?
Auto wrecks are all too common, and give rise to countless lawsuits. Once an accident happens, the blame game begins. Businesses are frequently sued when their employee drivers are involved in wrecks. And businesses often assume that, if a company driver is in an accident, the company is always responsible. But that’s just not true!
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE IN A WORK HOURS DRIVING ACCIDENT?
In Texas, a company is responsible for its driver’s negligence in a number of circumstances. The most common one is when the accident occurs while the driver is in the scope of his employment for the company. So if an employee delivery driver has an accident while making a delivery, the company can be held responsible for its driver’s negligence. But let’s say the driver finishes his delivery, and then sneaks off (without the company’s approval or knowledge) to visit his girlfriend, or go home to take a nap. If the accident happens while he’s doing so, then the employer may have a good argument that the employee “diverted” from his job duties, and that the accident didn’t happen in the scope of his employment. And if this defense works, the company will likely win!
CAREFUL WHO YOU TRUST WITH THE COMPANY CAR OR DRIVING PRIVILEGES
The employer can also be held liable for an accident if it “negligently entrusts” a company vehicle to a driver it knows or should know to be unlicensed, reckless or incompetent driver. As we all know, many licensed drivers are incompetent, so the fact the employee has a license may not be enough to protect the business from negligent entrustment claims regarding a licensed but reckless driver. This is why it is so important for business to check a prospective driver’s driving record.
THERE ARE VARIOUS PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS & DEFENSES
There are other claims injured accident victims can make against the company employing the driver that hit them. But there are defenses to all of them. Contact us at 832-284-4013 if you need help defending an auto accident claim against your company.