Car accidents are terrifying as they could lead to severe injuries or death. A car accident is even worse if it happens in a company vehicle. If a driver of a company car, truck, or any other vehicle is involved in a road accident, the employer could be liable for any damages resulting from the accident. Damage, in this case, refers to injuries the driver sustains as well as vehicle damage.
However, the issue is slightly more complicated than it seems. The following is what you should do if an employee has a car accident in a company vehicle:
Is the company liable for the accident?
The first thing you should do if an employee has a car accident in a company vehicle is to determine whether or not the driver was on the job. Doing so is often more complex than it appears.
Even if a driver was running personal errands using a company vehicle, as long as it was during working hours, it could be considered on the job. Generally, a driver will be deemed to be on the job if they were driving while conducting work-related activities.
Once you have established whether the driver was on the job or not, you should determine your liability for the accident. Employers have vicarious liability if an employee is in a car accident in a company vehicle. Vicarious liability is a personal injury concept that states an employer can be liable for an employee’s careless conduct if they harm someone else. The employer’s liability is dependent on the employee’s negligence resulting in harm to a passenger, pedestrian, or another vehicle. Once you establish liability or fault on your part, you can proceed.
Classify the Employee
The next step is to determine the employee’s classification and how it will affect your liability. With more workers being members of the ‘gig economy’ today, getting employee classification right is more important than ever.
There are significant differences between employees, independent contractors, and freelancers who you employ. These differences will matter substantially when it pertains to establishing liability after a car accident in a company car.
For you to bear liability for such a car accident, the worker has to be a company employee and not an independent contractor or freelancer. However, there are situations when you might be legally inclined to accept liability for a driver who is not an employee so, consult your attorney.
Contact Your Attorney
The best way for you to determine whether you are liable as an employer for the actions of an employee who was involved in a car accident while driving a company car is to get legal help.
Your lawyer will know exactly what to do in the situation and should be one of the first people you call.
You should notify your attorney as soon as you become aware of the accident. The individual or entity who incurs damages due to the accident may file a lawsuit against your company which means you quickly have to get ahead of the situation. Your company lawyer may be enough to resolve the case, but in some cases, you may need a personal injury attorney for certain situations.
Call Your Insurance Provider
Another call you have to make is to your insurance provider. They will ultimately be responsible for settling the case, and you need to alert them of the situation. You get car insurance for your company cars for precisely this type of situation. Sometimes, it may be easier to let your insurance company deal with the situation.
In conclusion, there is much to consider and do when an employee gets into an accident in a company car. The actions above are necessary, and you should do them as swiftly as you can. Legal protection is perhaps the most important thing, so make it a priority.