Distracted Driving Accidents May Affect Employers | Law Firm Newswire

Distracted Driving Accidents May Affect Employers

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) September 30, 2014 – Is a working employee's distracted driving an employer’s responsibility?

“This is one of those discussions that tends to come up when a company employee like a trucker or cab driver is involved in an accident. Was the employee driving while distracted? Did the employee’s driving cause the accident? What role does an employer play in such a situation?” said Bobby Lee, an Austin injury attorney.

Recently, a high-profile comedian was seriously injured when a truck crashed into the back of a limo bus. One person was killed, and several others were critically injured. The owner of the company told the press that the business would take full responsibility for the accident if it were proven that the truck caused the accident. There was no initial indication that the trucker involved in the crash had been texting or talking on a cellphone.

Respondeat superior, which is Latin for “let the master answer,” is a legal doctrine applicable to an employer-employee relationship. According to the doctrine, the employer is responsible for any lack of care on a worker’s part towards those the employer owes a duty of care. In order for this doctrine to apply, any negligence must have occurred within the scope of an employee’s job. “An employer can be held responsible for a worker’s negligence because the employee is an agent of the employer. If the worker committed an act of negligence within the scope of his or her employment, the employer is held liable for damages,” explained Lee. If the driver of the truck in the case mentioned above is found negligent, the company is automatically held liable. Respondeat superior is a form of strict liability.

An accident caused by distracted driving can have a significant economic impact on an employer. In Tiburzi v. Holmes Transport, Inc., for example, a jury handed down an $18 million verdict for a traumatic brain injury sustained by the plaintiff, who was hit by a truck driver (the defendant’s employee). Just prior to the accident, the worker checked for text messages. The employer was held liable.

The National Safety Council (NSC) points out that on-the-job crashes result in high costs to employers, citing “more than $24,500 per property damage crash and $150,000 per injury crash.”

Lee, Gober & Reyna
11940 Jollyville Road #220-S
Austin, Texas 78759
Phone: 512.478.8080

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