Are Employers Responsible for Car Accidents Caused by Their Employees?
In work-related car accidents, who is responsible for the damages? Is my employer responsible for damage to my vehicle, or are employees responsible for damage to company vehicles? When an employee causes a wreck while on the job, the employer is generally responsible. However, there are also situations in which an employer can be held responsible for an employee’s crash—even if the employee was driving the company vehicle off the clock at the time of the collision.
What is Considered a Company Vehicle?
Commercial and company vehicles are cars, vans, trucks, and buses that are owned and operated by a company to be used by employees or agents of that company. Typical uses of company vehicles are to carry work equipment, to haul goods, to transport non-employee passengers, and to provide employees with work-related transportation.
A few examples of company vehicles are:
- Agricultural truck
- Box or straight truck
- Car carrier
- Cargo van
- Catering truck
- Cement mixer
- Construction vehicles
- Corporate automobiles
- Delivery truck
- Delivery van
- Dump truck
- Fifth wheel truck
- Flatbed truck
- Fleet vehicle
- Front loader
- Garbage truck
- Ice cream truck
- Motor home
- Passenger bus
- Passenger car or van
- Pickup truck
- Pump truck
- Refrigerated truck
- Repair company vans
- Ridesharing service vehicles (Uber, Lyft)
- School bus
- Sport utility vehicle
- Step van
- Tank truck
- Taxicab or shuttle
- Tow truck
- Trunk tractor
- Utility company truck
- Wheelchair bus
- Wheelchair van
What Happens When a Crash Occurs While an Employee is On the Clock?
When an employee is on the clock, they are acting as an agent for the company that employees them. As such, companies are generally responsible for the actions of the employee. This relationship-based liability is known as respondeat superior which literally means “let the master answer.”
So, when an accident occurs while an employee is on the job, the employer may be expected to answer for the employee’s actions and is subject to liability for the employee’s tort.
What Happens In a Company Vehicle Crash that Occurs While the Employee is Off the Clock?
If an employee is driving a company vehicle off the clock when an accident occurs, the employer may still be liable for the crash in certain situations.
For example, companies and employers are responsible for ensuring any and all company vehicles are properly maintained and are free of dangerous defects. So, if a company vehicle crash involved a vehicle that was improperly maintained, had defective equipment, or was previously subjected to an unaddressed safety recall, the company or employer that owns the vehicle can be held legally liable for any damages.
Even if the vehicle is not defective and the crash was entirely the fault of the off-the-clock employee, Texas law says that companies and employers can be held responsible for providing the employee with a vehicle if the employee’s actions demonstrate that he or she was a reckless, careless, or incompetent driver.
When Should I Contact a Company Vehicle Accident Attorney?
If you were injured in a auto accident that involved a company or commercial vehicle, contact Thomas J. Henry right away. Many large companies employee teams of lawyers whose sole job is to challenge auto accident claims and limit the company’s liability for such claims. Contacting an experienced attorney as soon as an accident occurs will help ensure that all relevant evidence is preserved and secured and that the company is not able to avoid their legal responsibility.
Thomas J. Henry has handled a multitude of company vehicle accidents over the past two decades and continues to handle many of the largest 18-wheeler accident cases throughout the United States. Whether the company is small or large, our success is not an accident; it is because we understand how companies operate. We represent clients/victims all over the country.
Thomas J. Henry injury attorneys are available to respond to company vehicle accidents at any hour, day or night. Our lawyers understand that the immediate acquisition of evidence is paramount to understanding how the accident occurred. Remember, your choice does matter. Our firm has offices in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Contact our offices – we are available 24/7, nights and weekends.