We have all seen it too often in the Atlanta area – delivery drivers and other commercial vehicles driving too fast or recklessly for the traffic conditions in an attempt to get to where they need to be. Recently, there have been a few cases in the news where a driver of a commercial vehicle was involved in a car accident while on the job. In one case, a delivery driver of a very well-known sandwich company rear-ended another vehicle causing injuries to both people in the car that was hit. In other cases, a tractor trailer driver crossed a median and caused a head-on collision resulting in catastrophic injuries. And earlier this year, a limousine driver was driving too fast for the conditions causing the limo to swerve off the road and killing all eighteen of its passengers.
In all of these cases, the offending driver of the commercial vehicle was on the job when the accident occurred. In such situations, the employer of the negligent driver can be held liable for their employee’s actions. Under Georgia law, if an employee causes a car accident while driving a vehicle owned by his employer, it is presumed that the employee was acting in the scope of his employment. In order to avoid being held liable for the accident, the employer must show that the employee was not acting in the scope of his employment at the time the accident occurred. This doctrine is known as vicarious liability.
An employer can also be liable for their employee’s negligence under the theory of negligent entrustment. In order to recover compensation against an employer for their employee’s negligence, you must be able to show that the employer had actual knowledge of the employee’s negligent behavior. In other words, if the employer knew that their employee had a pattern of, or caused, other prior accidents, while on the job, the employer could be held liable if they did not take any action to prevent their employee from causing any further accidents.