Texas Court Discusses Claims Against Businesses in Car Accident Cases

Many people in Texas drive company vehicles or routinely travel for work. If a person causes a car crash while they are in the performance of job duties, anyone injured in the crash may not only be able to pursue claims against them as an individual but may also be able to seek compensation from their employer. As discussed in a recent Texas case, Sarah Cook v. Texas Highway Walls, LLC (NO. 03-22-00736-CV), an employer cannot avoid liability if there is evidence that the employee who caused the collision was acting as their agent. If you were hurt in a motor vehicle collision, you may be owed damages, and it is in your best interest to confer with a Texas car accident lawyer at your earliest convenience.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant and his company following injuries sustained in a motor vehicle collision. The plaintiff alleged negligence and gross negligence against both defendants and further claimed that the company was vicariously liable for The defendant’s actions.

Allegedly, the incident occurred when the defendant, driving a company-branded truck, collided with the plaintiff’s vehicle as she slowed for a red light. The defendant, an owner and vice president at the company, admitted to being distracted while driving. The company moved for summary judgment, which the district court granted, severing the claims against the company for separate adjudication. The plaintiff appealed.

Vicarious Liability and Direct Negligence of Businesses in Car Accident Cases

On appeal, the court focused on the company’s vicarious liability and direct negligence claims. Regarding vicarious liability, the company argued that the defendant’s status as an owner and officer rather than an employee precluded liability. However, the plaintiff contended that the defendant acted as the company’s agent, performing company duties at the time of the accident.

The court considered the defendant’s role in project management and his use of a company vehicle and resources. Despite the company’s assertions, the court found sufficient evidence suggesting the defendant acted within his role as the company’s agent during the incident, thus warranting further proceedings on vicarious liability.

On the claim of the company’s direct negligence, the plaintiff argued that the company failed to enforce adequate safety policies regarding distracted driving, citing deficiencies in training and safety procedures. The company countered that it owed no duty to specifically train the defendant on safe driving practices for his personal vehicle. The court agreed, affirming the trial court’s summary judgment on direct negligence and gross negligence claims against the company, citing a lack of evidence showing the company breached any duty owed to the plaintiff in this regard.

Ultimately, the court upheld the dismissal of direct negligence and gross negligence claims against the company but reversed the dismissal of vicarious liability claims, remanding them for further proceedings.

Confer with a Skilled Texas Car Accident Attorney

If you sustained injuries in a collision caused by a motorist who was performing job duties, you may be able to pursue claims against both the motorist and their employer, and it is wise to confer with an attorney. Earl Drott is a skilled Texas car accident attorney who can assess the facts of your case and advise you regarding what damages you may be able to recover. You can reach Mr. Drott to arrange a free meeting through the online form or by calling 903-531-9300.

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