Employer Liability for Georgia Auto Accident Caused by Employees
When drivers or passengers are involved in serious auto accidents, there can be signifcant challenges in seeking appropriate compensation from other drivers. Sometimes the other driver may be uninsured or underinsured such that there is not sufficient insurance coverage, especially when someone suffers catastrophic injuries or death. It is important to note that when a person who causes an accident is working on the job at the time, their employer may be liable for all injuries and damages that were caused under the doctrine of "respondeat superior," which literally means "let the employer answer."
For over a quarter of a century the Attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been helping people who are injured in serious auto accidents by careless and inattentive driving, including pursuing claims against negligent drivers' employers.
The doctrine of respondeat superior imposes "vicarious liability" on employers for auto accidents that occur within the "scope and course of employment." This means that an employer may be liable for the negligence (carelessness) of his employee even if the employer did not specifically engage in negligence, provided the employee was on the job or somehow serving the interests of his employer. Vicarious liability basically means that the negligence of the employee is attributed to the employer, making it unnecessary to specifically establish specific conduct that is negligent by the employer. An employer generally is not liable for personal errands by an employee that have absolutely no benefit to the employer.
Whether an employee who causes a serious car accident resulting in catastrophic injuries or fatalities is acting within the course and scope of employment is often a very difficult question that requires a careful analysis of the specific circumstances of an accident and the employee's activities immediately proceeding the car accident. A special situation is created if the employee is involved in an auto collision while driving a company car. When an employee is involved in an auto accident while driving a car or truck supplied by the employer, a presumption is created that the employee was within the scope and course of employment. This shifts the burden to the employer to establish that the employee was not engaged in activity that was for the benefit of the company.
As the use of cell phones has become prevalent, employee motor vehicle accidents while talking, texting or otherwise using a cell phone have become fairly common. If an employer provided the cell phone or knows that the employee uses the cell phone during work related errands, the employee will likely be found to be within the scope and course of employment. When the employee is involved in a car accident while running company errands, the court will typically look to company policies and procedures regarding use of a cell phone while driving. If a company does not have clear established policies against cell phone use by employees while driving on the job, the employer may be held liable.
Even if an employee is not within the scope and course of employment when they are involved in a automobile accident, an employer may still be liable for an employee's auto accident. The employer may still be liable under the theory of negligent hiring or negligent entrustment. An employer has an obligation to use a reasonable amount of care in hiring employees so as not to pose an unreasonable risk of injury to others. If the employee has a history of DUI convictions, speeding violations. reckless driving offenses or the like, the employer should know that the employee should not be hired for a position that involves operation of a motor vehicle. The employer may also be liable under a negligent entrustment theory when they put a driver with such a history behind the wheel of a vehicle as they should know that the person should not be trusted with a motor vehicle.
A company will generally not be liable for auto accidents that occur when the employee is driving to work or on the way home. Even in this situation, it is important to consult with an attorney because there are exceptions to this general rule. If the employee is engaged in a task for the benefit of his employer on the way to or from work, a court may find that the employer is liable for a car accident resulting in catastrophic injuries or fatalities. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, our Georgia auto accident lawyers know that the emotional, physical and financial consequences of a serious auto accident can be devastating. We also know that the key to obtaining sufficient compensation to rebuild one's life may entail ensuring that all relevant parties are part of the lawsuit.
Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, has been helping those injured by employees in serious auto accidents for over 35 years. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia including, but not limited to, Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller and rural towns in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away.