In most cases, if you have been injured by a company’s employee, that employee may not be solely liable for any injuries caused. Under the law, employers are often liable for their employees’ actions and the results of those actions, even if the employer did not play a direct role in your injury or any intent to injure you. The law holds an employer responsible, because an employer directs its employees’ behavior and the employer is also more likely to be able to compensate you for your injuries.
If an employee is in the course and scope of his or her employment, then the employer is responsible for any negligent actions that the employee takes or even if the employee fails to take a proper action. Generally, an act is considered in the course of employment if the employer has authorized the employee to act or the act is closely related, or arises from an act authorized by the employer. On the other hand, an employer will generally not be responsible for an employee’s actions if the employee is running a personal errand or doing some other personal business on company time.
By way of example, some employers allow their employees to use a company vehicle. If an employee takes the company car to a bar and gets into a car accident, the employer may not be liable because the employee was visiting the bar on his or her own time. On the other hand, if the employee is taking a client to the bar with the permission of the employer and gets into a car accident, the employer will be responsible, because they were acting with the authorization of their employer. The issue is not always cut and dry, though, with the possibility of intoxication making things more difficult, because it is arguable whether or not the employer should have expected the employee to become intoxicated. In addition, if a company car is being used at the time of the accident, under certain circumstances the employer may still be on the hook if the employer had some awareness of the car’s use.