Employer Held Liable for Employee’s Car Accident

Business vehicles make up a large portion of cars and trucks operating on Hudson, New York roads.  Sometimes, it is conspicuous that the vehicle is company owned; the business name could be written on the vehicle.  Other times, it may not be clear that the driver is operating a company vehicle or driving a vehicle for work purposes.

In any event, when an employee causes a car accident, his or her employer can be held to pay for injuries caused during the accident.  Consider the following real life example.  It is from a case titled, Zeglen v. Minkiewicz.  An employee of GE, Adamson, caused a collision with Minkiewicz.  Minkiweicz’s passenger was a person named Zeglen.  This passenger was injured in the car accident.

Zeglen sued Minkiewicz and Adamson so that he could be compensated for his injuries.  But there is more.  Zeglen also sued GE because Adamson was operating the vehicle while conducting business for GE.  Zeglen won at trial and every defendant, including GE, was held liable for Zeglen’s damages.

Experienced car accident attorneys in Hudson, New York have seen many cases like the one described above.  And holding the employer liable for the negligent actions of his or her employee makes sense.  Why?  Because the employer is profiting off of the employee’s work.  So when there is a loss, the employer must suffer the consequences.  It the legal world, the concept is known as respondeat superior – literally translated as “let the master answer”. 

But there is a catch.  If the employer is to be held liable when his employee’s negligence causes a car accident, the employee must have had permission to use the vehicle, and company business must have been conducted. 

Permission to use the company vehicle can be expressly made or it can be implied.  Meaning, the employer cannot escape liability by saying he never told the employee to use the company vehicle.  For if the employee cannot complete his job without using the company vehicle, than he has implied consent to use the vehicle. 

Let’s talk about operating the vehicle within the scope of employment.  It is not always clear.  For example, some employees are allowed to take a company car home, like a work truck.  But they are told to never use the vehicle for personal affairs.  If the employee uses the vehicle to go shopping for groceries on the weekend and ends up negligently causing an accident, the company might not be held liable for the victim’s injuries.  Of course, motor vehicle coverage will cover some losses, but the company might not be held liable for losses not covered by insurance. 

All of these issues will be debated during any trial; whether or not there was permission to use the vehicle; whether or not the employee was working; or if the employee strayed from company business during work hours. 

The attorneys at Greenberg and Greenberg handle car accident cases throughout New York State, including Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, and Albany County.  Our legal team has earned a reputation for dedicated service to our clients injured in New York personal injury accidents.  Please contact us today to receive a free case evaluation by dialing locally to 518-828-3336 or call toll free at 877-469-9300.