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.”
To learn more, visit http://www.lgrlawfirm.com
Lee, Gober & Reyna
11940 Jollyville Road #220-S
Austin, Texas 78759
- Holidays bring out the drunk drivers
Houston was relatively quiet over the Labor Day long weekend, a fact credited to the combined efforts of the sheriff’s department, city police departments and constables’ offices. The multi-agency coverage for the long weekend ensured that many drunk drivers were taken off the roads, but it did not prevent intoxicated Texans from getting behind the wheel. Over the holiday, Harris County racked up a record, reporting 192 DUI arrests. That number bears repeating – 192 arrests for driving while under the influence. One hundred and ninety-two individuals who made the negligent choice to drink too much and then climb behind […]
- Texan arrested for texting while driving drunk, doubling danger
A young Texan man, 23, was recently caught not only texting while driving, but texting while driving drunk. According to police, his blood alcohol content (BAC) was twice the legal limit. But for a local crackdown on texting while driving, the man may have escaped apprehension. Officers were out on patrol in a designated area along the interstate when one policeman noticed a driver texting while driving unsafely at highway speeds. Police discovered the young man was holding his cell phone with it on speaker. He insisted that this action counted hands-free phone use. This false belief, held by […]
- An argument for raising minimum liability insurance for commercial trucks
As it stands, the minimum liability insurance for commercial trucks/buses is $750,000. While it sounds like a great deal of money, it is not nearly enough to cover medical expenses for someone seriously injured in a crash. Additionally, the amount has not been adjusted for inflation since 1985. Many crash victims are seriously under-compensated. Nearly 5,000 people die every year in truck crashes. People who are lucky enough to survive a crash with a large truck are usually injured in a catastrophic, life-altering manner. They may require care for the rest of their lives, and $750,000 cannot cover the medical […]
- Driving while distracted? Know the facts.
Distracted driving usually entails texting or calling while behind the wheel. Many people think it’s not a big deal to take a call or answer a message because they are solidly competent drivers when paying attention. Know the facts: Drivers are twice as likely to be involved in an accident while texting. Eleven percent of all drivers under 20 years of age who are involved in a fatal accident were driving distracted. Sixty percent of drivers use mobile devices while driving. Seventy-eight percent of young adults and teens say they read messages while behind the wheel. Seventy-one percent say they […]
- Could MADD plates work in Texas?
South Carolina’s MADD came up with a new way to drive home the message that drunk driving kills – a new special license plate remembering drunk driving victims. In South Carolina alone, drunk driving claimed 358 victims in 2012. That year, more than 10,000 died across the nation. A $20 bill buys the plate, and ten dollars of the initial sale goes to support MADD’s work in the purchaser’s state. Could this work in Texas? No reason why it couldn’t be tried. It’s one more effective, visual, and very mobile campaign to repeat the oft-heard refrain: don’t drink and drive. […]