Visitor Question

Hit by drunk driver while he was driving a company vehicle…

Submitted By: Mitch (Maryland)

I was hit by a drunk driver who was actively drinking while driving a company vehicle.

I was the passenger in the car he hit, and was out of town on business at the time of the collision. I suffered a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff, and received surgery and physical therapy for both.

The drunk driver failed the field sobriety test, and promptly was taken to jail.

What sort of claims should I be filing besides personal injury against the driver’s insurance? Do I also file a workers’ compensation claim, since I was out of town on business? Do I file a separate suit against the drunk driver’s company? Any information you can give would be helpful. Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Mitch,

In most cases, an employer can be held liable for the actions or omissions of an employee when that employee causes harm to another person or persons. But that liability is qualified…

An employer may be held liable for the actions or omissions of an employee, if the employee injured someone while performing normal and customary work duties. This is also called “while in the scope of employment.”

It will likely be argued by the employer that the employee was drinking, and as such did not cause the accident while performing his normal and customary work duties. Quite obviously drinking on the job is not within the scope of the employee’s employment.

There is an exception…

If the employer knew, or should have know this employee had previously drank on the job, and the employer failed to take appropriate action to make sure the employee did not have access to a car, then the employer would likely be liable.

If you were actively working within the scope of your employment when the injury occurred, you should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. If though, you were commuting to, or back from your hotel, you would likely not be entitled to workers’ comp.

Injuries sustained while commuting to and from work, or during an employee’s lunch or other break, are normally not covered by workers’ compensation. You have the right to sue the drunk driver personally for your damages. Because of the complexity of your case, it’s strongly recommended you meet with an attorney.

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

Best of luck,

Published: November 3, 2014

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