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Holding An Employer Responsible For Negligence

road accidentDear Brian,

I have heard that an employer can be made to pay for mistakes made by his employee. I am told this is called “vicarious liability”. I was in a car hit from behind by a company car. The driver was not fit to drive the company car, but an employee had allowed him to do so. Can I make a claim against the company on their insurance because the employee should not have let the other person drive?



Dear Aubrey,

It is certainly true that an employer can be responsible for the negligence of an employee acting in the course of his employment. Your case is more complicated, however, because the bad driving was not by the employee. Nevertheless, you have a good chance of succeeding. In a decided case a lorry driver was under strict instructions from his employers not to allow anyone else to drive the lorry. He allowed an incompetent third party to do so without making any enquiry into his competence. The employers were held to be liable for the resulting accident.

In your case it was not the company’s fault. They did all that they could. However, their employee, acting in the course of his employment, had let them down and the law regards them as responsible because they are responsible for their employee’s acts and he “permitted” negligent driving.



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