Small Businesses Beware

By Dave Welch • October 4th, 2010

The owner of a small business has to wear many hats on a daily basis. The day can pass quickly when you’re switching from the accounting hat to the marketing hat; then there’s the operations hat, customer service hat, procurement hat, human resources hat and so forth.

One task that should not be overlooked is performing background checks on your employees that are driving your company-owned or leased vehicles. As the business owner, you are responsible to make sure your employee has a driving record that will not put you and your business at risk.

For example, if you have a driver that has a DWI or DUI record, excessive tickets, or past revocation of driving privileges, you could be putting your company in harm’s way. If an employee causes injury to someone with a company vehicle, you could be found guilty of “negligent entrustment.”

Negligent entrustment is a cause of action in tort law that arises when you — the business owner — is held liable for negligence because you provided an employee with permission to drive a company vehicle and the entrusted party — the employee — caused injury to a third party with that vehicle.

Are you doing everything you can to minimize your risks? Be sure to do background checks, provide driver safety training, and by all means contact your attorney to discuss preventive measures that may keep you from wearing another hat.


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