When you get into any car accident, you have to determine which party is going to pay for damages. This process is a little more complicated if you are involved in an accident in your company car. Two factors determine who is liable for damages or injuries after an accident: the reason you were driving the vehicle and the circumstances of the accident.
How do you know if you or your employer are liable for the other party’s damages? It would help if you understood the law in your area for these types of cases. Therefore, it’s best to contact a Palm Beach County lawyer.
What Is Vicarious liability
The definition of vicarious liability is when someone is responsible for another person’s actions. Vicarious liability is also known as respondeat superior, and it often applies in company car cases.
Employees are agents of their employers when they drive for work-related activities. For this reason, an employer can be liable for the employee’s actions.
For vicarious liability to apply, you have to be at fault for the accident. If you were not at fault, then neither you nor your employer can be held responsible.
As an employee, you should familiarize yourself with your company’s coverage policy. Generally, coverage on the employer’s vehicle will apply, regardless of the circumstances of the accident. Ask your employer for the company’s information on this if you have not been provided with any.
When Is the Company Responsible For Damages?
If you were driving for a work-related excursion, vicarious liability would most likely apply. Your employer should be liable for the accident if you were:
- Going to a training or work event
- Running mandatory errands for work
- Traveling to or from a client appointment
- Driving somewhere your employer directed you to drive
In these cases, the employer is responsible for paying for property damages or injuries caused by the employee. The employer’s liability insurance may also pay for the employee’s legal fees if the employee appears in a lawsuit related to the accident.
When Is the Employee Responsible For Damages?
Vicarious liability does not apply if you were:
- Driving to or from your place of work
- Running errands unrelated to the scope of your employment
- Stopping for coffee before or after an appointment
- Driving under the influence or other criminal activity
Additionally, you may not be protected if you are an independent contractor. For example, if you drive your personal car for a delivery or rideshare company, you may still be liable for damages in an accident.
If you lease a vehicle such as a tractor or a taxi, you should read your contract so that you know if you will be responsible for accidents.
What Happens If You’re Injured In A Company Car?
If your company car accident results in injury, workers’ compensation may cover you. You should know the difference between workers’ comp and liability insurance.
Liability insurance covers damages to third parties. The third party is the affected person outside of you and your company. Your employer may have a commercial vehicle insurance policy and a general liability policy.
The general liability policy covers damages to third parties for all kinds of incidents. For example, a general liability policy would cover a customer injured on company property. The commercial vehicle policy covers vehicle damage. However, the insurer might not pay if the driver responsible was not conducting company business.
An attorney will be able to comb through your company’s policies to try to prevent the insurance company from using the information in them against you.
Workers’ compensation covers employee on-the-job injuries. If you are injured in a car accident while working, workers’ comp usually covers medical bills, some lost wages, and other relevant expenses. Workers’ comp applies even if you were at fault for the wreck.
If the injuries are severe, workers’ compensation may not cover everything. It is essential to work with a lawyer to find out how much compensation you deserve. An employee may be entitled to liability coverage from the party at fault in addition to workers’ comp.
Do You Need An Attorney?
You should quickly hire an attorney if you have been in a car accident in a company vehicle. Even if you were technically at fault, you still want to have protection. An injury lawyer can help you:
- Understand your employer’s policies
- Determine if vicarious liability applies
- Avoid having the insurance company take advantage of you
- Get workers’ compensation if your company has denied it
When you are involved in an accident of any sort, you may have to deal with a lot of emotions, pain, and legal hoops. All of those factors can be frustrating and get in the way of your recovery.
Hire an attorney who can tell you what to do after an accident in a company car. They can take the burden off of you so that you can focus on what’s important.
It is normal to feel overwhelmed if you’ve been in a car accident, especially if you were in a company car. Many factors affect whether you or your employer are liable for any damages to a third party. You need to familiarize yourself with your company’s contracts and policies related to your company car, as well as the state laws.
A lawyer can help you navigate this complicated situation. If you were injured, you deserve fair compensation so that you can move on with peace of mind. Find out where you stand from someone on your side, without having to rely on the insurance company’s goodwill.
If you have been injured in a Palm Beach County company car accident, I encourage you to contact me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally to discuss your legal rights. To learn how the injury team at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers can help you Demand More® for your injuries, call (561) 983-4395 now.
Disclaimer: You should not take any information in this blog as legal advice in any situation. If you need expertise for a specific issue of yours, contact a qualified Personal Injury attorney.