Vicarious liability of employers

September 5, 2022

Dear Atty. Angela,

My son figured in a vehicular accident while driving home from school when a huge truck swerved into his lane and slammed the front right side of his car. This resulted in the car being a total wreck and my son suffering massive head and spinal cord injuries. We discovered that the truck is owned by a known company and the driver with an expired license was its employee on his way to deliver products. We contacted the company’s HR officer who at first was cooperative and promised to shoulder all medical expenses. However, upon learning the cost of medical treatment and the damages we were claiming, he suddenly stopped communicating with us. My wife and I are enraged with what happened to our son and how the company has dealt with the incident. We want to know the liability of the company and to what extent is their accountability.

Stephen

***

Dear Stephen,

The employer of the truck driver is liable for the negligent act of its employee while in the performance of his duties and functions. The liability of the employer under Art. 2180 of the Civil Code is direct or immediate. It is not conditioned on a prior recourse against the negligent employee, or a prior showing of insolvency of such employee. Its liability is likewise joint and solidary with the employee.

Articles 2176 and 2180 of the Civil Code are the applicable laws, which provide:

“Art. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.”

Under Art. 2180, the obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only for one’s own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.

The only way for a company to be relieved of liability would be to show that it exercised due diligence, both in the selection of the employee and in the supervision of the performance of his duties.
However, if it be proven that the company was negligent in its supervision of the driver and in his performance of functions (the driver here has an expired license), the company shall be equally or solidarily liable to your family for actual and compensatory damages.

Atty. Angela Antonio


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