Accidents Involving Company Cars Can Be Difficult to Manage
Accidents happen all the time, no matter how safe a driver you think you are. They happen in personal vehicles, rental cars, rideshare vehicles, and even company cars. Depending on the type of accident, one of the first things that happen is determining liability. This is especially true when an accident involves a company vehicle. There are numerous benefits to driving a company car, namely that you don’t have to worry about putting miles on the vehicle or about the wear and tear that comes with driving a car every single day. However, many employees don’t think about what happens in the event of an accident. Who is to blame? Will I have to pay for the damages out-of-pocket? These are just a couple of questions we are going to answer today to help you understand your rights and responsibilities following this kind of accident.
Company Car Accidents
Unfortunately, accidents with company cars are more common than many people realize. Often, these accidents are even more stressful than those involving personal vehicles. There are many different parts to accidents with company cars, such as figuring out the at-fault party and who pays. To determine liability for damages and injuries following the collision, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Who was driving the company car?
- Who caused the accident?
- What is the reason you were driving the company car?
- What are the liability requirements in your state?
If you have been involved in a car accident while driving a company vehicle, or if you were hit by another driver in a company car, contact Rad Law Firm today. Our experienced Dallas car accident attorneys have extensive experience handling these types of cases. We are prepared to do the same for you. These cases have many similarities to those involving personal vehicles or 18-wheelers, but there are also some important differences to be aware of. We intend to educate you and help you understand what your rights are following an accident in a company car. We know this can be stressful, and we are here to offer you legal advice and support your needs.
What You Need to Know
A company vehicle could be any truck, car, bus, or van owned by a company and driven by the employees. There can be many different uses of company vehicles, from hauling goods and equipment to transporting workers or visiting potential partners. These vehicles are covered by commercial insurance policies, which is one of the main reasons why these accidents differ from that of a typical accident.
Accidents with company vehicles carry an entirely different set of rules and regulations. The insurance agents involved are different, and accident injury lawyers who have experience handling these types of cases are usually present. Following a serious traffic incident with a company vehicle, one of the most pressing issues will be if the person (employee) driving the vehicle will be personally responsible for any damages and injuries. There are many different factors to consider here. Some of the terms you may hear when talking about these types of car accidents include:
- Negligence – This is the most important part of any car accident case. Proving negligence can be difficult but is critical. Negligence occurs when the person operating the car, truck, van, or bus fails to act responsibly, resulting in an accident that causes damages and injury.
- Liability – Determining who is liable – or responsible – for an accident is essential. Typically, the at-fault driver, the vehicle owner, or, in this case, the company that owns the car will be held liable for any damages caused.
- Damages – Damages following a car accident may include property damage, medical bills, physical therapy or other rehab costs, pain and suffering, other out-of-pocket expenses, or lost wages.
- Third-party – This is very important in cases with company vehicles. Third-party describes any individuals or businesses (besides you and your employer) that are involved. This could be other victims of the accident that are filing a claim.
When is the Company Responsible?
The main question following a collision involving a company vehicle is whether or not the employer is responsible. To understand this, we must first look at the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, which is a Latin term that means employers are legally responsible for the actions of their employees while working for the company. This means that the company will most likely be responsible for any damages following an accident. The company’s insurance company will protect the employer and ensure they are not personally responsible to cover any damages to injured victims. This is a very important – and unique – point that sets accidents with company cars apart from other types of car accidents.
When is the Employee Responsible?
As we’ve discussed, the responsibility usually falls on the shoulders of the employer when a company car is involved. However, there are several circumstances in which the employee may be held liable:
- A crime was committed – If the employee has engaged in criminal activity while driving a company car, he or she may be held liable. In these types of cases, the employer may “rightfully refuse” to protect the employee from a lawsuit. Examples of criminal activity include driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or acting recklessly in another manner.
- The vehicle was used for personal purposes – In some jurisdictions, using a company for personal reasons is called a “frolic” and relieves the employer of any responsibility. If you were behind the wheel of a company car that was used improperly, and an accident occurred during this time, the employee may be responsible for any damages.
- You are an independent contractor – In these instances, if the person using the company car is an independent contractor, not an employee, it could mean you are liable for any accident involving the car.
- You engaged in a non-business activity – While having a company car at your disposal is undoubtedly a perk, it also comes with a great deal of responsibility. If you use this vehicle 24/7, it is important you understand your rights and who will be liable in the event of an accident.
If you have questions about your rights following an accident in a company car, or if you have been involved in an accident with an individual driving a company vehicle, contact Rad Law Firm today. We offer free consultations and are prepared to help you understand your rights today.