In many car accidents, it’s obvious who caused the crash. However, if the driver was on the road for business, the at-fault party might be less clear. Under Virginia state law, an accident victim may be able to seek compensation for damages from an at-fault driver’s employer. These cases can be brought against a variety of employers, including personal small business owners and corporations.
Types of Employer Liability in Virginia Car Accidents
An employer can be held responsible when an employee causes an accident injury while driving for work purposes. Employers can be held accountable for:
- Negligent hiring. Employers have a responsibility to hire people qualified for the work who will not create a danger to the public. If a company knowingly hires a person not able to fulfill these two requirements, it can be considered negligent.
- Negligent supervision. When employees are provided a vehicle and/or asked to transport goods or people for work, specific safety guidelines should be in place. Company policies should dictate behavior on the road, and periodic safety reviews should be performed. Hiring a qualified employee simply may not be enough.
- Vicarious liability. Even if an employer does not act in a negligent manner, the company still may be held responsible for the behavior of employees behind the wheel.
Holding an Employer Liable for Injuries
To hold an employer liable for the actions of an employee, the employee must be acting within the scope of his employment. This means, he must be on the road specifically for a work-related objective, even if driving a personal vehicle. An employee who is picking up a document or a client during his lunch hour could be considered on the job. A person simply commuting to or from work would not, unless he is driving to a job site or location other than the typical place of business.
To help victims determine if an employer should be held responsible for accident-related injuries, an attorney will consider:
- Was there a “master and servant” relationship? Essentially, was the driver an employee of the company? Is the employer dictating the employee’s behavior? In some cases, the driver may be an independent contractor, or he may have been using a company vehicle or company time to complete some other, unrelated errand.
- Was the employee acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident? Was the employee on the clock, performing a function under the direction of or stated duties from the employer?
An Experienced Virginia Injury Attorney Can Help
If you’ve been injured in a car accident with a driver performing work duties, an experienced injury attorney can help determine if there is a case against that driver’s employer. Our experienced legal team understands what a significant impact a car accident can have on a victim’s life and how important injury compensation is to a complete recovery. If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a car accident, reach out to our office to learn more about what we do and how we may be able to help. Call our Fairfax office, or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to schedule a free, confidential case review.