Can a Mississippi Employer Be Liable for Their Employee Drinking and Driving?
When an accident or injury is caused by the negligence or misconduct of an employee while they are acting on behalf of their employer; the employer may be held liable.
When Is the Employer Responsible?
An employer can be held legally liable when an employee, who is drinking and driving, causes an accident while executing duties that are within the scope of their employment. For instance, if a delivery person causes an accident while out on delivery but drunk driving, or a commercial trucker causes a DUI accident while carrying a load.
An employer could also be held liable if an employee gets intoxicated while at a company party and later causes a drunk driving accident after exiting the party. The liability arises out of the fact that the employee consumed alcohol at a company party.
By holding the employer liable and making the employee’s negligence a cost of business to the employer, the Mississippi law encourages employers toward making vigilant hiring decisions and exercising caution at the time of selecting the people who will represent their business.
However, if at the time of the accident, the employee is engaged in some personal business or working out of personal motives, the law is less likely to hold the employer liable. If the employee acts in self-interest and not within the scope of employment, they may be held personally responsible for their actions.
Respondeat Superior or the Law of Vicarious Liability
The legal doctrine under which the law holds employers liable for their employees’ actions is known as respondeat superior which in Latin means to let the superior answer. Under this legal theory, it does not matter whether or not the employer had knowledge of the harm prior to when the employee caused it.
The general rule, as discussed above, states that the employee must be deemed to be acting within the scope and course of employment, for an employer to be held liable. However, there are certain exceptions to the rule and employers may not be held responsible for all of their employees’ acts.
As a victim of an employee who caused an accident because of drinking and driving while on the job, you do not need to establish that the employer did something wrong. The law establishes automatic employer liability by hiring an individual who caused harm to others while on the job.
Under vicarious liability, the law cannot hold an employee liable for damages caused while they were on their job, even if they are found negligent. The onus squarely lies on the employer to be careful and vigilant while hiring.
Vicarious liability also helps protect the victims. A DUI accident can cause serious injuries and significant financial costs for the victim. Mostly, the damages are in far excess of the other driver’s insurance limits. However, identifying others, like the employer, who is likely to have liability insurance coverage, can increase the chances of receiving full compensation.
Exceptions to Vicarious Liability
Exceptions to vicarious liability are the extreme cases where an employee steps outside the nature and scope of employment and undertakes actions that the employer is either unaware of or does not approve of. However, the law might still hold the employer partly liable as it deems their duty to exercise caution while screening, hiring, and training, their workers.
While negligent hiring doctrine applies when the employee causes an accident while on the job in the usual scope of employment, negligent entrustment shows the negligence of the employer in lending a vehicle with knowledge that the driver is habitually reckless, incompetent, or has a previous DUI charge.
Experienced Mississippi Attorneys Can Help
Having suffered 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 seasoned personal injury lawyers at Gardner Law Firm 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 Mississippi car accident, our attorneys can help you with their in-depth knowledge and understanding of Mississippi laws. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with an attorney at our firm, call us today at 228-900-9618 or fill out our online contact form.