Company Car Accidents
People on the road may be driving on behalf of their employer and not for personal reasons. Company car accidents are those that occur when an employee is performing work-related tasks on the road, such as running errands or delivering goods. If an accident occurs, the employee driver may expose the employer to liability if others are injured. The theory of vicarious liability holds employers accountable when employees act on their behalf. This is true whether the employee is driving their own vehicle or a company vehicle. Illinois law holds that employers are responsible for the negligence of their employees when those employees act “in the course of employment.” The Wheaton and Schaumburg car accident attorneys at Therman Law Offices have decades of combined experience investigating, negotiating, and litigating cases involving vicarious liability. We understand the complex nature of pursuing a claim against a company following a company car accident, and we are here to provide compassionate and effective legal services.Your Legal Rights After Company Car Accidents
The legal theory of vicarious liability holds an employer liable for the tortious acts of employees that occur during the course and scope of employment. Tortious acts include negligent conduct by an employee that causes a vehicle crash and injuries. Distracted driving, speeding, and driving under the influence are common causes of car accidents.
Following company car accidents, plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits must prove that the at-fault driver caused the accident. If this driver is an employee, then their employer may be held accountable for their conduct under vicarious liability. Proving fault on the part of the driver often requires demonstrating the elements of a negligence claim: duty, breach, causation, and damages.
Courts often look to the level of control that the employer exercises over the individual when assessing fault for a company car accident. Substantial control likely means that the person is an employee. An example would be regulating work hours or providing tools for the job. Independent contractors, on the other hand, are often hired to perform a task with a definite result. An employer may not be responsible for the actions of an independent contractor.
The scope of employment is necessary to assess employer liability. For a company car accident, the issue is whether the employee was within the scope of employment when the accident occurred. When an act benefits the employer in any way, it is deemed within the scope of employment. This might include driving a company car on an errand. Further, the accident must be within the authorized time and space provided for the task, and the negligent employee must have been driving for a purpose that benefits the employer.
Companies may attempt to set forth a defense in order to avoid legal accountability following a car accident caused by an employee. For example they may argue that the employee driver was on a “frolic.” A frolic is independent, when the employee acts on their own, without benefitting the employer. While an employer may argue that the employee was on a frolic, the court ultimately determines if they were acting within the scope of employment at the time of the accident.
In addition to vicarious liability, an employer may also be accountable under direct liability. For example, if the evidence shows that the employer negligently hired the employee or failed to properly train them, they can be responsible for resulting harm. An injured individual pursuing legal claims against the employer will be able to pursue all claims for relief, as theories of direct liability and vicarious liability are not mutually exclusive.Discuss the Details of Your Case with an Attorney Helping People in Wheaton, Schaumburg, and Nearby Communities
Holding employers vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees can be complex. By contacting a lawyer at Therman Law Offices, you are beginning the process of understanding and setting forth your legal rights. Our attorneys proudly help individuals and families in the areas of Wheaton, Schaumburg, Carol Stream, Bloomingdale, Roselle, Glendale Heights, Carol Stream, Villa Park, Lombard, Addison, and Lemont, Elmhurst, as well as West Chicago. To schedule a free consultation and learn more, call our office at 773-545-8849 or reach us online.