Can Employers Be Liable For Accidents Caused By Their Employees?

Posted - April 30, 2021
Auto accident. Crashed car in the street. Damaged car after collision

Generally, yes. Under Texas law, an employer is responsible for the actions of their employees so long as they were working in the course and scope of their employment.

What is “course and scope”? This is a legal term that basically means the employee must be doing something in furtherance of their employer at the time of the accident. For example, if you get hit by a driver who is on his way to work their employer is likely not going to be responsible. 

Conversely, if that same person hits you while going to the post office for their employer then there is likely to be a responsibility on the employer. One of our first tasks in a car accident case is determining who all the legally responsible parties are so that an action can be initiated for full and fair compensation.

How to Sue the Employers of Drivers Causing Accidents

To properly sue the employer of the negligent driver, a determination must be made as to whether the driver was in fact engaged as an employee at the time of the accident. This is a very fact-specific determination that should require an inquiry by your attorney. Frequently when a collision occurs unless there is a large commercial vehicle, such as an 18-wheeler or a dump truck, the investigating police officer does not make a determination if the at-fault driver was working at the time of the collision. 

This makes sense, our officers help determine why and how the wreck happened, and not who the at-fault party was working for at the time of the wreck. The officers are also actively taking witness statements and calling an ambulance for serious injuries.

So, how do you know if the at-fault driver was working at the time?

Simply put, with a proper investigation. At our firm, we do everything we can without filing a lawsuit to determine if there is an additional liability in the case. We request and review the officer’s body cam in every case. Sometimes there is simply a statement in the video that alerts us to additional liability, such as: “I was on my way to deliver a package”. We also verify who the real owner of the vehicle was that the at-fault driver was using.

We ask the insurance company to have their insured sign an affidavit stating that they were not working at the time of the accident if they claim that they were not. We also interview all of the known witnesses and ask about any statements that may have been made. Finally, some of it is just attorney experience and instinct that is only earned through litigation.

A Recent Case Study of an Employee Causing an Accident in His Employers Vehicle

Our personal injury firm recently resolved a very contentious case in litigation where a horrific collision occurred on HWY 80 in Terrell, Texas. The at-fault driver collided with a stopped vehicle between speeds of 60-70 mph. The force from the initial collision was so great that the stopped vehicle was propelled across the intersection into another vehicle. The involved vehicles were totaled, and some of the vehicles started on fire (actual photo attached).

A red car on the side of the road after catching fire in Dallas

Our client was left with lifelong injuries and an expensive medical bill. When it came time to take the deposition of the at-fault driver the driver denied that he was working at the time of the collision, and he was simply on his way home.

The facts seemed perfect for the defense and at first glance, his story seemed true. However, something with the case didn’t feel right so we subpoenaed the driver’s work file and timesheet for the day. It turned out that the at-fault driver and his company were dishonest about his work status and after a lengthy battle, our client finally got proper compensation.

How Can I Get Legal Advice?

Ultimately there are many potential pitfalls in placing liability on the employer. At the Genthe Law Firm, P.C., we do our best to determine all legal parties without a lawsuit, but if we find it necessary to get the proper information by filing a lawsuit, we are not hesitant to do so.

After litigating hundreds of lawsuits, we are very experienced in identifying cases where the employer is responsible. Contact us to consult an attorney if you believe you or a family member may have been hit by someone who was working at the time of the collision.