Sometimes, employers can be held liable for damage or injury caused by employees in auto accidents. Many employees use company cars or drive as a part of their employment responsibilities. If an employee is involved in an auto accident, the type of activity in which the employee was engaged at the time of the accident can affect the employer’s liability.
When employees cause accidents while performing duties under the scope of their employment, auto accident victims will typically be able to recover damages against their employers. For instance, if a pizza delivery car driver runs a stop sign, causing an accident, the accident victim will typically be able to sue the driver and the employer to recover damages.
An activity that has some connection to the employee’s role as an employee, but may not be within the scope of the employee’s typical duties, is called a “detour.” If an employee takes a client out after work hours, the employee is not technically involved in activities of the employment. However, if the employee’s company encourages its employees to entertain clients outside of the workplace, the employee’s activity may be sufficiently connected to the employment to bring liability onto the employer. In this situation, an accident victim could likely collect damages from the employer for any loss or injury that an employee causes in an accident while driving home.
Auto accident victims typically cannot recover damages from employers when an employee causes an auto accident while engaged in what is considered a “frolic.” For instance, if an employee takes the company car to dinner with friends on the weekend, consumes a few beers and then causes an accident on the way back home, the employer will likely face no liability. This type of activity is totally unrelated to the scope of the employee’s professional duties and the victim can likely only recover from the employee.