employer liable for employee drinking and driving

Can a Georgia Employer Be Liable For Their Employee Drinking And Driving?

When an employee causes an accident or injury while they are on their job, carrying out their company’s business, or acting on behalf of their employer; the employer is likely to be held liable.

This rule usually holds employers responsible for the negligence and misconduct of their employees. By making the employee’s negligence a cost of business to the employer, the Georgia law pushes employers toward making careful hiring decisions and exercising caution at the time of choosing the people who will represent their business.

However, if an employee is engaged in executing some personal business or working out of personal motives at the time of the accident, the law is less likely to hold the employer liable. If the employee was acting in self-interest and not at the employer’s direction, then that gives rise to plausible arguments in favor of the employee being held personally responsible for their actions.

Respondeat Superior or the Law of Vicarious Liability

The legal theory or doctrine under which the employers can be held liable for their employees’ acts is known as respondeat superior which in Latin translates to let the superior answer. Under this legal doctrine, it is irrelevant whether or not the employer had prior knowledge of the harm that the employee might cause.

The general rule states that, for an employer to be held liable, the employee must be deemed to be acting within the scope and course of employment. There are, nonetheless, certain exceptions to the rule and employers are not responsible for all of their employees’ acts.

As a victim of an employee who causes an accident because of drinking and driving while on the job, you need not prove that the employer of the negligent individual did something wrong. Employer liability is automatically established by hiring a person who caused harm while on the job.

Under Georgia’s respondeat superior doctrine, in most cases, unless there are special circumstances, an employee commuting to and from work in a car is acting out of only their own reasons and not for their employer.

The Purpose of Vicarious Liability

While under vicarious liability, an employee cannot be held liable for damages they caused while doing their job, even if otherwise found negligent. The onus is on the employer to be vigilant while hiring. If the employee’s activities were being carried out at the instructions of their employer, the law considers the employer to be at fault because they could have been more vigilant while hiring or training the employee.

Vicarious liability also protects the victims, as suing an employee may not be in their best interest as that person may simply not have adequate resources in the form of an insurance policy to cover your injuries and damages. On the other hand, the employer is likely to have liability insurance coverage and other resources to handle your claim.

Exceptions to Vicarious Liability

There are exceptions to the vicarious liability in the sense that the employer is only liable if the damages were caused while carrying out duties in the nature and scope of employment.

The exceptions are the extreme cases where an employee steps outside of their work-related duties and undertakes actions, such as drinking and driving, that the employer would never ask for or approve of. However, the employer may still be held partly liable as they had a duty to exercise caution while screening, training, and supervising their workers.

Negligent Hiring and Negligent Entrustment

Just as in vicarious liability, a negligent hiring doctrine is applicable only when the employee causes an accident while carrying out duties in the usual scope of employment. However, negligent entrustment is based on the negligence of the employer in lending a vehicle with knowledge that the driver is habitually reckless, incompetent, or has a previous DUI charge.

Choose Seasoned Georgia Personal Injury Attorneys for Legal Representation

Having sustained injuries and other damages in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you should not be stuck with figuring out who is legally liable. The personal injury lawyers at Stein & Fox are here to protect your legal interests by holding the liable party responsible and getting you the maximum possible compensation for your pain and suffering.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a Georgia car accident, you should contact the attorneys at Stein & Fox LLC. Our competent attorneys can help you with their in-depth knowledge and understanding of complex Georgia tort laws. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with an attorney at our firm, call Stein & Fox Accident Attorneys at (770) 961-1700 or fill out our online contact form.


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