Even though the employee makes the decision to drink and drive, if you are involved in an accident with an employee who was committing a DUI, you may be able to seek compensation from his or her employer. The employee is less likely to have as many assets to seize in a car accident case, but you'll be more likely to successfully seek compensation from a trucking company.
If an employee has already had a DUI that resulted in an accident, the employer may be responsible for letting his employee go. If the employer retains the employee, he or she might be found negligent. This is referred to as "vicarious liability."
Even if the employee had a DUI with another employer, the current employer is still responsible for the accident. The new company has the responsibility to perform a background check to verify that the new hire has not committed a DUI.
The Scope of Employment
A common argument made by the employer is that the employee was not drinking within the scope of his or her employment. However, this is a more difficult claim to make when the employee is driving a company car.
An employer is typically liable under owner liability. This holds that in a car accident, the owner of the vehicle is liable even if he or she was not driving the vehicle. Therefore, if an employee uses an employer's vehicle to drive to a bar and consumes alcohol, the employer may still be responsible for an accident that follows afterward because the employee was still using the company's car.
Alcohol Served at Company Events
Even during an event, an employer might be responsible for the employees drinking and driving. Some employers serve beer and alcohol but place a limit on how much alcohol employees can drink. Others may create a situation where only alcohol is available. The employer might even be responsible for a DUI if the employee sneaks alcohol into the event and then gets behind the wheel and causes an accident.
Why You Need a Commercial Vehicle Accident Attorney
Because you will need to gather evidence that the employer was responsible for the DUI that lead to your accident, it's essential that you work closely with a commercial vehicle accident attorney. He or she will know how to gather the evidence necessary to prove your case and hold the employer responsible.