Employer Liability in Texas Car Accident Cases
If you are in a Texas car accident and you suspect the driver at fault was working at the time of the incident, their employer may be liable. In many cases, employers are found liable when their employees cause a car accident on Texas roadways.
Are Employers Responsible When an Employee Causes a Car Accident?
Finding an employer liable for a car accident caused by one of their employees hinges on a legal concept called vicarious liability. When an employer is found liable for a car accident, they are responsible for any damage caused by the employee who was a party to the actual incident while they were working or operating a company vehicle. The vicarious liability principle means that an employer is responsible for the person they hired, even if the employer or company itself, had no physical part in the incident. However, vicarious liability does not always apply.
When Does Vicarious Liability Not Apply?
Vicarious liability may not apply if an employee was acting on their own time at the time of the accident or if the employee was using a company vehicle for unauthorized personal reasons at the time of the accident (even if they were on the clock). Vicarious liability is an essential legal concept that often plays a significant role in truck accident cases. For example, in most accidents involving an at-fault commercial truck or vehicle, the plaintiff or injured party files a personal injury claim against the company, not the driver.
If An Employee Is Clocked In, Is the Employer Liable?
If an employee is on the clock when they are in an at-fault accident in Texas, the incident almost always falls under vicarious liability, but is the employer always liable? Vicarious liability can be tricky, even if the employee is clocked in during the time of the car accident because there are exceptions that can leave the employer with no liability. Some situations in which the employer will not be liable for the employee’s actions, even if they were clocked in, include when an employee was acting outside the scope of their job duties. Working with an experienced attorney can help plaintiffs gather the necessary evidence to support a vicarious liability claim.
What About Off the Clock Employees Who Cause an Accident in a Company Car?
If an employee is off the clock but driving a company vehicle when they are in an at-fault Texas accident, the situation can get confusing. For instance, if an employee is using a company vehicle to run errands on their lunch break or to move on a Saturday morning, the employer will probably not be held responsible, since the employee was using the company’s vehicle outside of the scope of their job. The employer’s insurance still covers the company vehicle, but the employee’s personal actions are not seen as the employer’s responsibility. Employees who are off the clock and driving their own personal vehicle while fulfilling work duties, the employer is also not likely to be held liable. For instance, when an employee is in an at-fault Texas accident driving their own vehicle while commuting to or from work. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, if an employee works part-time at home (telecommuting) and is traveling to the office, the employer may be liable for damages in an at-fault accident.
If you’ve been in a Texas car accident with a commercial vehicle or employee on the clock, get in touch with an experienced Dallas, Texas car accident attorney at Hudson Law Firm. We put Personal back into Personal Injury Law.