What do theories of liability have to do with defending trucking claims? Everything. It’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s how we keep our clients from being buried with requests for the company’s policies about hiring and supervision of drivers.
Louisiana law does not recognize a claim for negligent hiring and supervision of drivers when the employer/trucking company admits the driver was working in the course and scope of employment at the time of the accident. We advise our clients, where appropriate, to admit the employee/ drivers were acting within the course and scope of their employment, file motions to dismiss any negligent hiring and supervision claims, and refuse to produce the requested documents.
Louisiana Law: Vicarious Liability
In Louisiana, it is well-settled law that an employer is responsible for the damages caused by its employee in the course and scope of employment. This theory of liability is known as “vicarious liability,” and arises from the employment relationship with the employee. If the employee injures another person during the course and scope of employment, the only theory of recovery against the employer is vicarious liability.
Our trucking and transportation clients are often sued when their driver-employee is involved in a simple accident, such as a rear end collision, and the plaintiff’s attorney claims the trucking company was negligent in its hiring and supervision of its driver-employee. Thereafter, the plaintiff’s attorney requests the company’s policies concerning hiring and supervision of all drivers.
Recent Court Rulings on Liability
According to recent rulings by a Louisiana Court of Appeal and a Federal District Court in Louisiana, an injured party cannot make an additional negligent hiring or supervision claim against the employer when the employer admits the employee was acting within the course and scope of employment when the injury occurred. Therefore, because no claim exists for negligent hiring or supervision, there is no reason to turn over records about the company’s policies concerning hiring and supervision of drivers.