Hit by a Commercial Vehicle – Is it the Driver’s Fault, or the Company’s?

Photo of a truckAutomobile accidents are not always cut and dry when it comes to liability. While many accidents can be ascribed to the negligence of a driver, sometimes there are other parties at fault for accidents. If you are hit by a commercial vehicle, such as a semi-truck or a work van, sometimes the employer of the commercial vehicle’s driver can be responsible.

There is a legal theory known as “respondeat superior,” Latin for “let the superior make answer.” Under this theory, employers can be held liable for negligent acts committed by employees. But there are stringent requirements for an employer to be liable.

  1. The negligent act that caused the accident was not intentional
  2. The negligent act was committed during the scope of employment

What Does It Mean for an Act to Be Within the Scope of Employment?

Several factors can help determine if a driver is acting within the scope of employment when he or she causes an accident.

  1. The employee’s intent
  2. Nature, time and place
  3. What type of work the employee was doing
  4. Acts that the employer would reasonably expect the employee to be doing
  5. The amount of freedom afforded to the employee to carry out job duties

Here’s an example. David works for Wal-Mart as a delivery truck driver. On the way to drop off cargo at a store, he rear-ends Stacy. In this situation, Wal-Mart could be liable because David was making a delivery for the company. Now, what if David had already finished his shift and was driving the truck back home? Then David would be liable for the accident, as he is no longer on his shift and is not within the scope of employment.

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”



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