Hit by driver drunk on company time...

by Lenora
(North Carolina)

My husband and I were on our way to do some car shopping, when out of the blue a drunk driver ran a stop sign and t-boned our SUV. We flipped over twice that I remember, and slid more than 160 feet before hitting a school fence.

We both were sent to a local hospital with cuts bruises and lots of pain from being flipped. We landed on the roof of the car, trapped with our seat belts so tight we could hardly breath. The driver was arrested for DUI. She was on company time and drunk, can we also sue her employer? Thanks for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Hit by driver drunk on company time...":

Leonora (North Carolina):

You and your husband certainly have the basis of a negligence personal injury claim against the driver. Whether the driver's employer is liable for you and your husband's injuries and related damages will depend on a couple of issues.

The issue of "driving on company time" must be investigated further. Just because a driver is on company time doesn't necessarily mean the employer is automatically liable for his employees' actions.

The second issue is the intoxication of the driver. By voluntarily ingesting enough alcohol to become intoxicated and then driving, the driver committed a crime. Committing a crime is "outside the scope of the driver's employment." In most cases employers aren't liable for an employee's actions when the employee commits a crime.

Unless you can prove the employer knew the driver had a habit of driving while intoxicated and still permitted him to drive, or knew his employee was intoxicated and failed to take action to stop him, you probably don't have a negligence claim against the employer. You do appear to have a legitimate claim against the driver personally.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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