Is Your Employer Liable for an On-the-Clock Car Accident?

employer liability car accident

When it comes to liability for employers, they should be aware of the finer nuances of the law to protect themselves in the event that an employee is involved in an accident. Although you may think that it is a matter of common sense that an employee is responsible for his own conduct, the law can have some pitfall for those who aren’t vigilant in spelling out the responsibilities and defining them with contracts well in advance. And even when the duties of employees are spelled out, an employer may still be found liable if they are negligent enough to hire an employee with a bad track record who is considered a risk. Management Training can be a helpful tool in learning more specifics about what to do in these legal situations, but this article will be a good start to understanding the basics of some company’s liability situations. Let’s consider the intricacies of the law, below.

Types of Employer Liability

There are different types of employer liabilities in car accidents. Each state may also have its own unique distinctions of the law to define liability. This is because the wisdom of one method of determining fault such as “vicarious liability” can seem too abstract for some to honor.

Supervisor Liability – Supervisor liability occurs when the employer has a policy or custom that created a substantial risk of the accident occurring. This has been partially addressed with trucking laws, for example, by limiting their possible tasks while driving to eliminate distractions. Now, truck drivers are required to limit their interactions with dispatchers to only pressing one button situated near them for ease of access. This eliminates the risks of driving distractions that can be caused by drivers being instructed by dispatchers to punch in extraneous delivery or pickup information. In situations where the supervisors lack of supervision, lack of policies, or bad customs can be seen as negligent, they may be found partly or wholly responsible by a jury.

Vicarious Liability – Vicarious liability (also known as respondeat superior) is controversial and not acknowledged in many causes of actions. The bedrock of vicarious liability is that the employee was merely serving his master and that the risks generally associated by that service should fall on the master unless the employee takes a gross deviation from his duties. Different jurisdictions may have different definitions and situations where they recognize vicarious liability. One example would be if a construction company had an employee who regularly surveyed the geological structures of a plot of land before the building was built, who uses poor judgment when weighing certain risks that cause the building to sink.

Situations When Employers Are Not Responsible

An employer should be relieved of any obligations to reimburse a driver for damages to his own personal vehicle and any accidents caused on the way to and from work. In most cases, an employer will also require their employees to sign a waiver form that indemnifies them from liability concerning damages that the employees may cause on the job.
Non-profits should seek consultation when it comes to situations such as this. With liability forms, most non-profits are safe can remain safe from this, but technicalities can arise on a case-by-case situation.


If you are an employer, you may be held accountable for the conduct of your employees incurred on the job. Most of your business insurance premiums are tied to the liability that your employees present. By hiring employees with a proven track record and experience in the field, you can lower your insurance premiums and the risks of facing a lawsuit. You should also put safety policies in place to remove supervisor liability from off the table. A vicarious liability theory claim is fragile and can be a difficult claim to plead and prove in the courts. It is hard to tie an employer to the event unless they have failed to protect themselves with indemnification contracts.

About the Author

Austin Winder is a Public Relations Specialist and contributing author for California Cart Builder. He lives in Memphis, TN and graduated with a business and marketing degree from the University of Memphis.