Who Pays for a Car Accident in a Company Car?

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Car Accidents involving company cars are much more common than you might think. However, what happens afterward is a little more complex than if you have an accident in your own vehicle. Potential issues including whether you or the company providing the car compensate any injured motorists, all depend on the circumstances surrounding the crash.

If you were using the vehicle properly, the commercial auto insurance provider usually pays any valid accident claims. In most cases, your employer will work with the insurance company. You may, however, have to provide evidence and answer questions at the insurer’s request. Vicarious liability, or when someone is accountable for someone else’s actions, often applies, meaning the employer is responsible for the actions of the person driving the car.

Proving the Employer Is Liable in a Car Accident

Generally, an employer is automatically accountable for actions of employees who injure someone while acting within the scope of their employment. However, the employee must have working in some form when the accident occurred. Vicarious liability can apply if you were:

  • Going to or from a meeting with a client
  • On the way to a training session
  • Out running errands related to your job
  • Driving somewhere your employer instructed you to

However, if you were using the same car for personal affairs, such as driving a family member to their destination, or visiting a friend, this won’t be considered the normal course of work duties. Acting on your own initiative, outside the scope of your employment, can open the door to personal liability.

When Is the Employee Liable in a Car Accident?

You would be liable for paying damages caused by an accident that occurred while driving to or from work, stopping for coffee on the way to an appointment, or going anywhere that your employer didn’t say to go. If you had been drinking, then you’ve already committed a crime, so your employer wouldn’t be liable for the damages you caused.

If you were running a personal errand using a company vehicle, a victim cannot sue your employer. They can instead pursue damages from you personally and file a lawsuit to seek compensation. You could also be fired for engaging in reckless behavior or any action that violated company rules.

Another possibility when you are responsible for a car accident is that you may have to pay the company for the damage to its vehicle. This is usually the case if you were driving the car for personal use and were at fault.

What If You Were Struck and Injured While Driving the Company Car?

There are certainly cases where another driver is to blame for a collision. When that happens, a claim can be made on that driver’s insurance, which may then pay for property damage, medical care, and lost wages. If they are uninsured, you could qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, if you were injured in the course of your work.

Who Decides When Vicarious Liability Applies?

The cause of a car accident isn’t always clear. The drivers involved may have different accounts, and insurance companies often disagree on issues, leading to a dispute that could ultimately lead to a trial. If the case goes to trial, a judge or jury may decide whether vicarious liability applies. This requires looking at the facts of the case, but the jury must often decide who is telling the truth, what the facts are, and how the law applies to them. Sometimes, a judge can relate the law to specific facts, without a jury, and reach their own conclusion.

Hire an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Los Angeles

The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani has handled numerous auto accident personal injury cases over the years. Highly regarded across California, we can gather the facts of your claim, examine the facts, and help determine who is to blame and if vicarious liability can be applied. We can even help you recovery damages if injured while in a company car. For a free case consultation, call 888-952-2952 today.

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