We all agree upon one thing in terms of ethics; the person who drinks and drives is responsible for any type of consequences that might occur. It is a matter of the fact that the decision to drink and drive is a highly subjective one.
In general, employer responsibility for employee drunk driving also comes into consideration when accidents occur in the vicinity of employment. Simply put, employers are said to be liable for car accidents caused by their employees when those accidents happen concerning the terms of their employment. This responsibility lies on the shoulders of the employer, whether the employee had been consuming alcohol or if it was a simple driving error that led to an accident.
However, due to specific laws in California, there are some complications in this statement. Sometimes, the courts hold persons liable for the accident who seemingly were not involved in the accident in any way.
Legal Perils of Drunk Driving
Furthermore, in order to comprehend how it is permissible for a court to hold an employer liable for an employee’s drunk driving accident, you need to understand two legal concepts. In California, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, the two legal concepts that hold the employer accountable are known as “respondeat superior” and “vicarious liability”.
Relation Between Respondeat Superior and Vicarious Liability
Thanks to the theory of respondeat superior, an employer is essentially always accountable for the actions of an employee. The actions that the employee carries out within the course of employment ultimately are the responsibility of the employer’s. This theory is formed on the idea of vicarious liability – which declares that the courts are allowed to hold one person liable for the actions of someone else based entirely on their relationship.
On top of that, civil courts frequently invoke the theory of respondeat superior for personal gain in injury cases. To give an instance, let’s suppose a person slips and falls on an earlier mopped floor because an employee neglected to place a “Wet Floor” sign visibly on the premises. Now, although the employer was not physically there, so the direct blame is not on them, there is a possibility that the courts will hold them responsible. This is due to the fact that the accident was caused by an action of an employee which took place during the “scope” of employment.
About 30 years ago, the courts considered “scope of employment” a very narrow road that they did not prefer to indulge in. They would have held the employee who neglected to put up the sign liable, and the ruling would have ended there. The most significant piece of “evidence” would have been that the employee overlooked an essential part of protocol from the employee guidebook. Now, however, the courts almost use “scope of employment” and hold employers accountable for any type of accidents that occur within the vicinity of the business, even if the worker themselves does not approve of said actions.
Furthermore, the same goes for drinking and driving. Employers may be ordered to assume liability for their employee’s negligence.
Does Respondeat Superior Apply In Drinking and Driving?
To answer whether the theory of respondent superior applies in drinking and driving accidents, the courts tend to ask one question: Was the drunk employee still working for their employer when the accident occurred? If the answer is yes, then the courts automatically place blame on the employer.