With an estimated 90 percent of Americans driving to work, and with commercial drivers logging tens of thousands of miles every year, transportation and employment are inseparable. With so many people either commuting to their jobs or driving for work, a significant percentage of all vehicle collisions involve commuting and working drivers.
If you were injured in an accident caused by someone who was either on the clock or on their way to work, what are your rights? More specifically, is the at-fault driver’s employer legally responsible for your medical bills and other losses?
Employer Liability for Vehicle Collisions in Florida
1. Vicarious Liability for Employees’ Negligence
As a general rule, Florida law holds employers accountable for their employees’ actions undertaken “within the scope of employment.” This means that most on-the-job accidents are covered, and most commuting accidents are not. However, there are a number of exceptions to this general rule. For example, if an employee caused an accident while intoxicated and his or her employer had appropriate policies in place to discourage and prevent drunk driving, then the employer may not be liable. Conversely, if an employer asked an employee to run an errand during his or her morning commute and the employee caused an accident along the way, the employer could be liable for the victims’ injuries.
In any case, in order for this rule of “vicarious liability” to apply, the employee-driver must have been at fault in causing the accident. If there is no evidence of negligence, then the employee-driver will not be liable, and neither will his or her employer. As a result, just like any other accident, after an accident involving an employed driver it is critical to conduct an investigation as soon as possible.
2. Employer Liability for Employer Negligence
In addition to facing vicarious liability for employees’ driving mistakes, in serious auto accidents, employers can face direct liability for their own negligence as well. When employers ask their employees to drive for work – whether that means driving a commercial truck, driving a utility vehicle, or driving from one sales meeting to the next – they have a legal duty to take appropriate steps to avoid putting other motorists in harm’s way. Examples of employer negligence that can lead to dangerous vehicle collisions include:
- Failing to ensure that employees are licensed and have adequate training and experience;
- Failing to have proper maintenance policies for company-owned vehicles;
- Allowing (or even encouraging) employees to talk on the phone or text while driving;
- Requiring employees to spend too many hours behind the wheel; and,
- Otherwise failing to discourage and disincentivize unsafe driving practices.
Contact Powell, Powell & Powell, P.A. for a Free Consultation
For more information about your rights after a car, truck or motorcycle accident, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation. To speak with a lawyer at our Defuniak Springs law offices in confidence, please request an appointment online today.