In a recent news story, the Denver Post reported that an 83-year-old man was killed by a delivery truck while bicycling in Lakewood. Given the number of truck and delivery drivers on the road, being hit by a commercial vehicle is a very real concern. Luckily, Colorado law allows victims and their families to sue both the driver and the driver’s employer. This is important, because employers are usually more likely than their employees to be in a position to pay damages following an accident.
Colorado law allows injured parties to sue an employer if they are harmed by a company employee acting within the scope of their employment. This concept, otherwise known as vicarious liability, holds a company liable for a car accident caused by their employee if the driver of the vehicle was acting in a work capacity at the time of the accident.
Following are examples of vicarious liability:
A victim who is hit by a company car while the driver was on the way to work
A victim who is hit by a delivery van operated by a commercial driver
This rule has several important exceptions. The most important is that employers are usually not held responsible for their employee’s actions if the accident occurred outside the scope of work. An accident that is caused by an employee using a company car to take the family skiing on the weekend is unlikely to result in employer liability. Another exception is intentional misconduct, such as if an employee uses a company car to purposefully run another motorist off the road.
You may also have a claim based on negligent supervision if you can show that an employer improperly retained, hired or failed to supervise the employee who caused the accident. Examples of negligent supervision include:
A pizza shop that hires a delivery person who has a history of DUI accidents
A commercial vehicle operator that is hired to drive a truck without the employer properly verifying whether that driver holds a commercial driver license