Can a Driver’s Employer be Liable for Damages After a Car Accident?

Posted on behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak

on August 11, 2021

. Updated on June 23, 2023


Delivery driverAn employer may be held vicariously liable for the negligent actions of his or her employees in some situations. There are several factors that come into play when determining liability for an accident caused by an employee. This includes what their employment status was and whether the employee was on the clock when the accident occurred.

If you were injured in an accident caused by the negligent actions of an employee, you may be able to recover compensation from his or her employer. Call our car accident lawyers in South Bend today to discuss the facts of your claim and see how we may be able to help you pursue the compensation you need for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Below, we discuss what may factor into vicarious liability for a car accident.

When Does Employer Liability Apply?

Under the legal theory of vicarious liability, an employer may be liable for an employee’s negligent actions so long as:

  • There was an employee/employer agreement
  • The employee was under the control and supervision of the employer
  • The employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment

It is important to note that an employer may be held liable for the actions of an independent contractor under certain circumstances. This may greatly depend on the type of work the contractor was hired to do.

For example, the contractor may have been hired as a third party to run errands on behalf of an employer. In situations such as these, vicarious liability may still apply through the principle of “qui facit per alium facit per se,” which is Latin for “he who acts through another does the act himself.” Therefore, an independent contractor may be acting on behalf of another party who may be held financially liable for his or her negligent actions.

Was the Employee on the Clock?

This question is important because an employer may not be held liable for an employee’s actions if that employee was not on the clock at the time of the accident.

Generally, employer liability does not apply during:

  • Commutes to/from work
  • Lunch/dinner breaks
  • While running personal errands unrelated to work

However, this may change if the employee was driving a company-owned vehicle assigned to the employee to take home. Liability in these cases may be more complex, so you should strongly consider speaking to a knowledgeable attorney who may be able to help determine when employer liability applies for company vehicles, even if the employee was not on the clock at the time of the crash.

Did the Accident Occur Within the Scope of Employment?

Another important factor to consider when determining employer liability for a car accident is whether the accident occurred within the at-fault employee’s scope of employment. In other words, was the employee performing an act included in his or her job duties?

For example, a delivery driver who causes an accident while making a delivery for a company was acting within the scope of his or her employment. Therefore, the employer of the delivery driver would generally be held vicariously liable for any damages from the crash.

Call a Knowledgeable Attorney for Help

The insurance company may try to deny liability for the accident, claiming the employee was not working within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the crash or was a hired contractor and therefore the employer should not be liable.

Whatever the insurance company’s excuse, it is important to have someone on your side who understands employer liability for accidents and who is prepared to take on the insurance company on your behalf.

Our attorneys have decades of experience standing up for the rights of injury victims when their claims are denied by the insurance company, and we have a track record of successfully recovering millions on behalf of our clients.

We offer a free consultation with no obligation to take legal action. We do not charge you anything up front and only get paid if we win, so there is no risk to you.

No risks. No upfront fees. Phone: (574) 444-0741

Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak

Serious Attorneys for Serious Cases