Offering a company vehicle to employees is a great benefit to them. It means not worrying about wear and tear, not paying for gas out of the pocket, and many other benefits. Sadly, things can go sour if they get into an accident using a company car. The most significant hurdle is trying to understand who is liable for the accident, given the many technicalities that could come to play. In this article, we discuss everything the employee and company need to know about company car accident liabilities and claims.
After you are involved in an accident with the company car, you need to protect your health and rights. If it is a minor accident, then note down the necessary details of the event. Ensure you obtain the other driver's license number, insurance policy information, and a police report. If you are in a position, make sure you take photos or videos detailing the accident. If there were witnesses, collect their contact information and any statements that they may be able to offer-having all the evidence intact will come in handy in the later stages of the process.
Tip: It is also important to report the incident to your employer and visit a medical doctor for treatment. Don’t ignore even the minor injuries sustained.
While it might seem obvious that the employer should pay after a car accident given it is a car company, many other factors come into play. For instance, the scope of employment must be established.
You are perhaps wondering what scope of employment means. In essence, the scope of employment involves a range of conduct and activities within which an employee can reasonably be considered to be carrying out the business of his or her employer. For example, if you are involved in an accident doing the company's deliveries or heading for a work meeting, your employer will be liable for the accident. In such an instance, your employer is responsible for the claim under the legal doctrine "Respondeat superior" also known as vicarious liability. This implies that employers are generally responsible for their employees' actions as long as they are acting within the scope of employment.
On the other hand, if you get involved in an accident when doing personal activities or running personal errands like going out for dinner or golfing, then you might be liable for the accident.
Different states have different laws. For example, in many states, the owner of a vehicle is strictly liable for any injuries caused by employee drivers. This means that the company's liability will not depend on whether the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident.
Company policy- Some companies might have a car policy that either makes it liable or excludes it from liability in the event of an accident.
State of the car- Vehicle owners can also be found liable if the accident was caused by the owner's failure to maintain the vehicle properly.
At this point, you can tell that so many aspects come into play when it comes to company car accidents. It is always advisable to hire an experienced car accident lawyer to help with your case. A skilled lawyer will come in handy in protecting your rights against unscrupulous employers and third parties who might want to take advantage of you. Ensure you talk to a lawyer with experience in handling auto accidents.
A company's insurance policy differs from one company to another. This means there are certain aspects that will be covered while others will be excluded. Generally speaking, the insurance company or policy provided for your company vehicle will pay for damages caused by an employee in a covered accident, including damages to the injured driver, passenger, pedestrian, or cyclist.
In cases where your company policy does not cover the accident, the party responsible for the accident will be expected to pay. For instance, if you were hit while the other party might be liable. Still, the liability will depend on the scope of employment.
In business, time is money. Of course, after an accident, you might need to deal with the emotional and financial burden of an injury, car damage, or insurance claim. At the same time, you need to have a Plan B in place that allows you to continue operating your business seamlessly - for yourself, your customers, and your employees alike. Therefore, it is always recommendable to find a lawyer that can help protect your rights, find compensation, or, if things go sour, prepare you for a Hardship License Hearing.
When dealing with cases that involve company car accident liabilities, it is always advisable to work with a lawyer. As you can tell from our discussion, there are so many aspects to be considered in company car claims, particularly where a company vehicle offered as an employment benefit is involved. Some of these concepts can be technical and beyond your understanding nor knowledge. You might not protect your rights simply because you do not fully understand the scope of employment or failed to defend yourself well.