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Employers Can Be Liable For Their Employee’s Accidents

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.

Similar to negligent entrustment, a plaintiff can recover against an employer if their employee caused an accident under the theory of negligent hiring, retention and supervision.  In this instance, an employer can be liable if the employer knew of the employee’s tendency to engage in behavior similar to what caused the accident.  For example, if the employer knew that its employee had a history of distracted driving and caused an accident, you could hold the employer responsible for your injuries.

An employer can also be liable for failing to properly train their employee or to adequately supervise their employee while performing their job duties.  For example, the owner of the tractor-trailer could be liable if they did not properly train their employee driver to safely drive the semi, or make sure that their driver received regular training updates.  Similarly, the limousine company could be liable if it failed to confirm that the limo driver had the proper training and license to drive such a vehicle.  An employer of such drivers can also be liable if they failed to do thorough background checks, drug screening or check for past driving records.  Essentially, the employer can be held liable if it can be shown that they knew or should have known that the employee was not suitable for the job but failed to take any action.    This is a good check on employers to make sure their employees are properly trained and responsible to perform their job duties so as to keep others on the road with them safe.

If you, or your loved one, has been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another driver, you may have grounds for a claim against the driver and their employer.  Your claim could help you recover compensation for your losses, including medical expenses, lost income, lost earning capacity and pain and suffering another other damages. Talk to an Atlanta car accident lawyer at the Katz Law Firm to find out if you are eligible to file a claim for damages.