If you were driving an employer’s vehicle when you got into a car accident, your employer may be liable for damages. However, this depends largely on the circumstances of a given accident. Let’s take a look at when your employer may be responsible and when someone else may be liable for paying damages.
Were You Performing Job Duties for Your Employer?
Your employer is not liable for anything that happens while driving an employer vehicle for personal reasons. For instance, if you were driving to the mall to pick up a new video game or going to meet friends at the beach, you are using the employer vehicle for personal reasons. However, if you were going to the mall to deliver video game consoles to a customer, that may qualify as work. Therefore, your employer may be held responsible for any damages related to the accident.
Did You Cause the Accident?
You or your employer would only be responsible for damages if you were the one who caused the crash. If a police officer determines that the other person or another party was at fault for the accident occurring, that party would be financially responsible for the wreck.
How Did the Accident Happen?
If the accident occurred while working for your employer, his or her workers’ compensation insurance may pay for your injuries. However, if there was a problem with the vehicle itself, you or your employer may file a product defect lawsuit against the car maker. In the event that the accident occurred because of the negligence of your employer, it may be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit.
In a workers’ compensation case, you may be entitled to the cost of medical bills and a portion of your salary while out of work. In a personal injury case, you may be entitled to punitive damages or damages related to emotional distress in addition to reimbursement for medical bills and lost wages. This is true whether you file a suit against your employer or against the person who hit you.
Did You Act In a Negligent Manner?
It is possible that both parties to a car accident are partially responsible for it taking place. If you were found partially liable for an accident, you may see any award from a personal injury case reduced by the percentage of the crash that you were responsible for. For example, if a jury found that you were 40 percent responsible for your injuries, you would receive 60 percent of your award.
While workers are generally entitled to workers’ compensation even if an accident was their fault, there are exceptions to this rule. If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your claim could be denied. The same may be true if you were reckless while driving or modified the car in any way.
Does the Employer Have Proper Auto Coverage?
There is a possibility that your employer could make a claim under his or her auto insurance policy. Assuming that a company has business auto insurance, it may help to pay any damages resulting from the crash. This may cover both your injuries as well as any bodily injury to others involved in the crash. However, if your employer doesn’t have auto insurance, the employer may only be liable up to whatever assets the company has. This may limit the damages any party can claim in a lawsuit.
If you are involved in a car accident, it may be worthwhile to talk with an attorney. Even if you caused the crash, your employer may be liable for paying any damages if it occurred while driving a company car for employment purposes.