The laws of Louisiana specifically consider when an employer may be held responsible for the acts of an employee driver in a personal injury lawsuit. This is referred to as having “vicarious liability” for the employee. Three elements must be shown to impose vicarious liability on the employer.
First, there must be an “employment relationship.” Whether an employment relationship exists is usually determined by examining the amount of control the employer exercised over the employee’s work at the time of the injury. Second, it must be determined whether the employee’s negligent acts were committed within the course and scope of employment. When deciding this issue, courts examine whether the employee’s conduct was so closely connected in time, place, and purpose to his work duties that it should be treated as a risk attributable to the employer’s business. When an employee acts out of purely personal considerations that are outside the scope of his work duties, the employer is not responsible.
The third element of vicarious liability is that the employee be negligent or at fault for the accident. If an employee is found not to be at fault for an accident, then his employer also cannot be at fault based on that employee’s conduct.
In motor vehicle accident lawsuits, if a driver is commuting to and from work, he or she usually is not considered to be within the course and scope of employment. Even if an employee is “off duty,” however, a court may impose vicarious liability if the employer benefits from the employee’s off-duty driving or reimburses the employee’s travel expenses. For example, where a newspaper employee was involved in a car accident while attending a concert both for his own entertainment and to write a review for his newspaper, a Louisiana court held the newspaper vicariously liable based on this mixed purpose.
If you have been injured in a car accident and wish to discuss your rights, please feel free to call our office at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER. We would be happy to help you.