Who Is Liable for an Accident in a Company Vehicle?

If an accident involves a company vehicle, the employer’s insurance or special program like worker’s compensation may cover the liabilities. In most cases, the at-fault driver will pay for the damages, either from pocket or through their insurance. You may also need an auto accident injury lawyer to assess the case and prove you are not at fault.

Who Will Pay For The Damages?

Accidents are complicated and may require a jury and trial to determine who’s at fault and who’s innocent. Sometimes, both drivers assign blame, so it’s vital to prove innocence beyond doubt. The court may find three parties liable for accidents involving a company vehicle: an employer, an employee, and an at-fault third party.

1.    Employer

An employee will generally pay for accidents involving a company vehicle under the old doctrine of vicarious liability. According to this doctrine, employers are liable for accidents caused by negligent employee actions or non-actions. Employers are liable if the employee was working within the scope of their employment when the accident occurred.

Vicarious liability identifies the various other scenarios where the employer’s insurance will pay for the damage. One scenario is an accident when the employee was on duty or performing a task for which they are hired. The employer will also pay if they would have benefited from the activity their employee was pursuing at the time of the accident.

If vicarious doctrine applies to your accident, the employer will cover all damages if you are at fault. The employer’s insurance company can pay for medical bills and treatment expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and other damages. If vicarious scenarios don’t apply or a third party is at fault for the accident, the employer won’t be liable for the damages incurred.

2.    Employee

Employees may find themselves liable for damages resulting from an accident involving a company vehicle. If you are the at-fault driver, the court expects you to cover the damages caused to the third party. Your employer can only cover these damages under vicarious liability. Here are some scenarios where an employee will pay for damages:

•    Personal Errands: If you are running personal errands unrelated to your work, the employer won’t pay for damages to the third party. It doesn’t matter if the accident occurred during business hours. Employer insurance doesn’t cover personal errands, known as frolicking in some jurisdictions. 

•    Committing Crime: Driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances is a crime. Various other criminal acts could result in an accident. If you were committing a crime when you got into the accident, you’ll pay for the damages caused to any third parties involved. 

Employer insurance generally doesn’t cover accidents outside the scope of employment. If you run into an accident when commuting to/from work, the employer won’t pay for damages. Commuting isn’t driving at work. You must prove the employer didn’t carry out their duty of care, or you may pay for all injuries and damages resulting from the accident.

3.    Third Party

A third party is an individual or company held liable for the accident. If you are part of an accident where another driver is at fault, you shouldn’t pay for anything. The at-fault party or insurance company will cover the injuries and damages suffered. Damages to the company vehicle are paid to the employer.
Bodily injuries, pain and suffering, and lost wages are paid to the employee. The employer may also claim compensation in cases where the company covers medical bills and other costs after the accident. You’ll need an experienced auto accident injury lawyer to gather evidence and prove your innocence and the other driver’s negligence.

Worker’s Compensation & Driving at Work

Worker’s compensation is an insurance product for employees injured or disabled on duty. If you are part of an injury that leaves you badly injured or disabled, you can claim worker’s compensation. The insurance will cover damages regardless of who’s at fault, provided the employee was driving at work, which is different from commuting to/from work.

Driving at work applies if driving is part of your job, such as a logistic business employee. It includes employees delivering parcels, traveling to other locations, and attending meetings away from the workplace. Driving at work doesn’t cover an employee pursuing personal errands at the time of the accident. You must be on duty for the employer to take liability.

The employer won’t pay worker’s compensation unless you are injured while on duty/pursuing work-related errands. You can claim compensation for all damages, including bodily injuries, lost wages, lost/damaged property, and pain and suffering. The worker’s compensation is separate from claims directed at the negligent driver, so you can recoup losses from either side.

How to Tell Who Is Liable For the Accident

If you are in an accident, the first thing to do is get the necessary medical assistance. Accidents can result in severe injuries and short-term and long-term issues, so a professional diagnosis is vital. You should also report the case to the police and contact your auto accident injury lawyer as soon as possible. The goal is to gather evidence to rid you of liability.

If you are in a company vehicle but not the driver, you’ll receive compensation regardless of who’s at fault for the accident. You’ll still need to call a lawyer to handle the case. The jury will determine fault for drivers of company cars unless the negligent driver chooses to settle out of court. Here’s how the courts/insurance providers determine who’s liable for an accident:

•    Recorded Evidence: Includes police reports, audio and video recordings from CCTV cameras, or other sources like at-scene witnesses. 

•    Witness Statements: Includes written or narrated recollections of the accident provided by at-scene witnesses. An expert witness may also be called upon for professional insights when reconstructing the accident scene to determine fault.

•    Other Evidence: Juries ponder various pieces of evidence to prove who is at fault in an accident. A positive DUI test, an apology you made to one party, or a social media post during the supposed recovery can downplay your claims. 

Reputable Auto Accident Injury Lawyer

Accidents can happen to anyone at any time. If you are part of an accident involving a company vehicle, you should contact your lawyer as soon as possible. Working with an experienced attorney allows you to focus on recovery. At Ping an Attorney, we connect injured parties to highly qualified attorneys to help recoup damages when you are not at fault.

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