We encounter a lot of different vehicles on the road, some driven by individuals, others owned by public transport. There are also ride-sharing vehicles, and of course, company vehicles are on the roster as well. If you are involved in a car accident, anyone, regardless of who owns the vehicle or who is driving behind the wheel, can be held liable if they are found to be at fault.
When a company vehicle is involved in an accident, a lot of questions arise, such as who is liable? Who will pay for damages? Will the driver answer to the charges or will the company shoulder all liabilities?
It’s important to understand how to determine liability in a company car accident so that you can take the right course of action to recover the compensation and damages that you deserve.
How to Determine Liability in a Company Car Accident
Claiming compensation for car accidents involving company cars is more complicated than when working with personal vehicles. A lot of factors must be considered to determine liability as it can be attributed to either the driver or the company itself.
Further, company vehicles are almost always covered by commercial insurance policies and are governed by a completely different set of rules and regulations. Some important things that will need to be determined are negligence, liability, damages incurred, and any third party that is involved.
The first questions that need to be asked to determine liability include, among others:
- Who was driving the company vehicle?
- Who caused the accident/ the at-fault party?
- What was the reason the driver was using the company car?
- What are the liability laws in the State that apply to the incident?
When is the Company Liable for the Accident?
The most important question in a company car accident is “who is liable?” As a general rule, the employer is liable for car accidents involving vehicles they own by virtue of the doctrine of resondeat superior, which is Latin for the phrase “let the master answer.”
Under this principle, employers are responsible for any action of their employees under their scope of employment. Employers are obliged to cover any damages or liability using their commercial insurance policies for any incident that happens while in the performance of employment duties, as long as the employer is not found to be personally liable for the incident.
When is the Driver Personally Liable for the Accident?
There are instances when the company cannot be held responsible for the acts of its employees. Often in the case of company accidents, the responsibility falls on the driver of the vehicle. The driver, who is an employee of the company that owns the subject vehicle can be held personally liable in these circumstances:
- The driver committed a crime: The employee can be held liable if they committed a crime while driving the company car. Some common crimes include driving under the influence, reckless disregard for safety, violation of traffic laws, etc. In these instances, the company may refuse to protect the employee from lawsuits that may be initiated by the victim.
- The driver used the car for personal purposes: The reason behind the use of the company car is important to determine liability. If the employee used the company vehicle for personal reasons, they can be held personally liable, which relieves the employer from any responsibility for the accident.
- The driver is an independent contractor: If the driver is not employed as a full-time employee of the company and is instead categorized as an independent contractor, they can be held personally liable.
- The driver engaged in a non-business activity: Driving for unofficial business activities can transfer liability to the driver instead of the employer. When the car is being driven for purposes other than those related to business matters, it’s far-fetched for the company to be held responsible.
Involved in a Company Car Accident? Contact Our Lawyers Today
If you have been involved in an accident while driving a company vehicle or you were hit by a company car, determining liability is crucial to your case. These types of incidents are complex and complicated, which can make it difficult to pinpoint exactly who you should go after for compensation and damages.
For years, our lawyers have been handling company car accident cases and are equipped with the legal knowledge and expertise to correctly determine who is liable. We are prepared to help you win your case, fight for your rights, and recover the damages that you sustained.
Contact our car accident lawyers today to begin building your case and moving on from this traumatic event.