Many of the drivers you interact with on Dallas’ roadways are on-duty employees. Delivery people, government employees, commercial truck drivers, FedEx/UPS drivers, Uber and Lyft drivers, taxicab drivers, and other employees must all get behind the wheel on public roads as part of their jobs. If a company employee contributes to a car accident while performing work-related tasks, the employer may be vicariously liable for damages. Here’s how the law works in Texas:
Employers’ Vicarious Liability
“Vicarious liability” is a legal concept that holds third parties liable for injuries that another party causes. The two parties must have a certain relationship for vicarious liability to come into play. Employers and their employees have this relationship. Under Texas law, an employer could be liable for the actions of its employees if the employee was acting within the course of employment. Even though the employer was not present at the time of the car accident, and not physically involved, the company could end up paying for victims’ damages.
Employers face potential third-party liability because they exercise control over their employees. They take responsibility for their employees while workers are on the clock. Therefore, if an employee causes or contributes to a car accident, it is the employer that could take the fall. For example, FedEx may be liable for a crash that an on-duty delivery person caused in Dallas. If the FedEx deliverer was texting and driving, resulting in a collision, the company and the driver could face liability for damages.
Vicarious liability only works if the employee was performing a work-related task at the time of the crash. You would not have a case against FedEx if an off-duty driver in his/her personal vehicle crashed into you. The driver would have to be acting within the course of his or her employment to have a claim against the company. Vicarious liability could apply to employers in any crash involving an on-duty employee driver.
Negligence on the Part of the Employer
Vicarious liability isn’t the only way that injured car accident victims can hold employers responsible. The employer is liable in many cases because of its own negligence in causing the crash. If the employer acted in a way that breached the accepted standards of care in a particular situation, the employer may be guilty of negligence. An example would be if a commercial trucking company failed to keep its fleet properly maintained, resulting in a crash from the brakes failing. In this scenario, the employer may be liable for maintenance negligence.
Negligent hiring, training, and retaining procedures may also result in employer liability. It is an employer’s job to only hire safe and prudent drivers. They must do so with certain hiring procedures, such as background and criminal checks. They must also train their employees as much as necessary to allow them to operate vehicles safely. Negligence during any of these processes, resulting in a car accident, could lead to employer liability.
After a car accident with an on-duty employee or company vehicle, talk to a Dallas car accident attorney. Employer liability is a tricky subject that requires in-depth knowledge of state and local laws. A lawyer can help you identify the true defendant(s) in your case, and fight for just compensation from company insurers.