Attorneys for Car Accidents Involving Company-Owned Vehicles
If you have been in a car accident while driving someone else’s vehicle or a company-owned vehicle, determining liability can lead to potentially awkward conversations and be confusing for all parties involved. The car accident attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have many years of experience handling complex car accident cases in Charlotte and the surrounding region. Whether you were driving as an employee or a negligent commercial driver struck your car and caused your accident, we can help. Contact our Charlotte personal injury law firm today to schedule your initial consultation and discuss how we can help you.Vicarious Liability in North Carolina
North Carolina recognizes the legal doctrine of vicarious liability. Under this theory, an injured person can sue a driver's employers for injuries caused by the negligent employee. When the conditions meet the legal elements, employers must pay for any damages caused by the actions of their negligent employees. To succeed in a vicarious liability lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove the following three elements:
- The at-fault or negligent party was an employee of the employer at the time of the car accident.
- The employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment when the accident occurred.
- The car accident was foreseeable. This element is often met when the employee was driving for the benefit of his or her employer.
Proving that the employee was acting within his or her scope of employment can be challenging. Courts look at the factors involved in the case to determine whether the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment. A court will consider the following factors:
- Whether or not the employee was wearing the company logo or uniform when the accident occurred.
- Whether or not the employee was engaged in a job required by his or her employer.
The legal principle of vicarious liability comes down to whether or not the employer required the wrongful acts or the driving was reasonably incidental to the employment. The injured party must also prove that the employer could have reasonably foreseen the driver's misconduct. When employers know that employees are driving on their behalf, it is usually easy to prove that the employer can reasonably foresee a car accident happening.
If a salesperson is driving a company car on the way to make a sales pitch and negligently collides with another vehicle, the employer will probably be held vicariously liable for their employee’s negligence. If the same salesperson caused a car accident while driving to the grocery store on his day off, the employer will not likely be liable for the damages caused by the car accident. Typically, employees who commute to and from work or while on their lunch break are not acting within the scope of employment.
One exception could be running a “special errand” on behalf of the employer while on a lunch break. For example, if an employer asks an employee to deliver a package while the employee is on a lunch break and the car accident happens then, the employer may be liable for injuries caused by the car accident.Liability for Commercial Drivers and Independent Contractors
North Carolina commercial drivers are liable for any injuries that their employees cause. Commercial drivers in North Carolina are required to maintain minimum insurance levels and meet higher standards. For example, commercial bus companies are liable for injuries caused by employees whose negligent driving causes bus accidents. Similarly, the employers of commercial truck drivers are responsible for damages caused by their employees.
The situation becomes somewhat more complicated when an independent contractor causes a car accident. Independent contractors are not employees of the employer but willingly agree to provide goods or services in exchange for payment. It is more difficult for plaintiffs to hold employers liable for the negligent actions of their independent contractors. Many independent contractors sign liability waivers that waive the business from liability caused by independent contractors. However, North Carolina courts may still assign liability to independent contractors in some small cases.We can Help
If you have faced an injury caused by a commercial driver or an independent contractor, you may have a right to compensation for your injuries. Successful car accident plaintiffs are entitled to monetary compensation and compensation for pain and suffering. The skilled attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can review the facts of your car accident and help you determine who is liable for your injuries. Call us now at 704.370.2828 to speak with our lawyers to explore your legal options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.