When Is an Employer Vicariously Liable for an Accident?

What does it mean to be “vicariously liable” for someone’s accident? If you are involved in a car accident in Irvine, CA, it is important to determine who caused the crash. You can seek compensatory damages with the help of an Irvine car accident attorney only after you have identified the liable party.

However, determining liability is not always simple. This is because more than one party may be responsible for causing a crash. In addition, California laws also allow car accident victims to seek damages from an employer under the principle of vicarious liability.

What Does It Mean to be Vicariously Liable?

If an employer is vicariously liable in personal injury claims, it allows you to bring a claim against an employer or owner, even if they weren’t operating the vehicle at the time of the accident. This principle rests on the belief that an employer is responsible for the actions of the employee. So if the employee was engaged in a job-related task and caused the accident, you can file a claim for damages against the employer.

However, in order to hold an employer vicariously liable, the circumstances of the crash must meet certain requirements. Here is a look at these.

Course and Scope of Work

In order for an employer to be held liable for an employee’s negligence, you must be able to prove that the employee was acting in the course of work, and within the scope of work. These are two distinct elements and both must be proven for vicarious liability to apply.

Course of Employment

This simply pertains to the requirement that the employee must have been on the job at the time. For instance, if the employee was taking a day off or was away on a vacation, the employee’s actions shall have no effect on the employer. Similarly, if the employee was commuting to and from work, the employer is typically safe from any liability during this period. It is only after an employee has reached the job and their work hours have started that their actions can be attributed to the employer.

Scope of Employment

This is another aspect of employee activity that determines whether or not an employer can be held accountable for the employee’s actions. This element requires that the employee must have been acting within the scope of employment for an employer to be liable for any accidents. In other words, if an employee was taking a lunch break, or had left the office to perform personal errands during work hours, vicarious liability will not apply.

There are many situations where an employee may be working in the course of the job, but not within the scope of the job. For instance, if a delivery guy goes out during work hours to deliver food, he is working in the course of the job. However, if he takes a detour during work to carry out a persona errand, he is no longer acting within the scope of work. Such distinctions can make vicarious liability claims somewhat complicated so that you will need the help of a lawyer to sort them out.

Direct Employer Liability

In some car accidents, it is possible to hold an employer directly liable. This is typically possible when it can be shown that the employee who caused the crash was not sufficiently competent. For instance, if a trucking company hired a driver without proper qualifications, the company can be held liable in the event of a crash.

Likewise, if an employer is found guilty of any other form of negligence that may have contributed to the employee’s negligence, the employer can be held liable for damages. If the employer gave the employee delivery deadlines that were too unrealistic or didn’t have policies in place to ensure safe employee conduct, you can bring a claim against the employer for the employee’s actions.

It is also possible to hold an employer liable both directly and vicariously. You will need to discuss your accident claim with a lawyer before you can do so.

Why Hire an Irvine Car Accident Attorney?

If you have been involved in a crash and suffered injuries, it is important to know the parties you can hold accountable for damages. As noted above, you can seek damages not only from the at-fault driver but also from the driver’s employer if the driver was on job at the time. However, vicarious liability claims can be different from regular claims.

This is where we can help you. Here at the Crockett Law Group, we help Irvine car accident victims recover the maximum amount of compensation. Get in touch with us today to discuss your Irvine crash claim with our lawyers.

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