Q: My dad was in a car accident and the other driver was working for a business and was working at the time of the accident. The accident report indicates that the driver had insurance but we found out it had expired. I think that the business should be responsible for my dad’s car and his hospital bill.
A: If the driver was at work for the business at the time of the accident, the business will be probably be liable (responsible) for both the property damage and the personal injury to your father.
This presumes that the other driver was at fault in the accident. Before the business is liable, the driver has to have been negligent in some way that caused the accident such as a rear end collision or failing to yield the right of way. If he was not at fault, then his employer is not responsible.
We are talking about an area of law called agency and we think about a relationship where the employee was performing duties incident to their job, but the law also will find an employer responsible if the employer supplied the vehicle or the employee was acting in furtherance of the employer’s interest.
The law does not require that the employee was specifically authorized to engage in that particular activity but that those activities were generally within the employee’s authority. In other words, if it is customary for the driver to eat lunch while doing their job while on the job and the driver was going to lunch, the employer should be responsible.
The idea behind the law imposing liability on the employer is that the employer is generally in the best position to insure that their work is performed in a safe manner. Therefore, the negligent acts of an employee while in the line and scope of their employment are both the responsibility of the negligent employee and the company they were working for at the time of the accident. If the other driver was at work when this accident happened, the company that he worked for should have to pay for the harm that he caused.
Buckle and drive safely.
McCutcheon & Hamner, P.C.
2210 Helton Drive
Florence, Alabama 35630