Work Vehicle Accidents: Who Is Liable?

Many people rely on company vehicles to perform their jobs, whether they are truck drivers, delivery drivers, or salespeople. Driving a company car also has its perks. Employers usually pay for all gas costs, and you avoid putting miles on your own vehicle. However, driving a company car doesn’t exempt you from encountering bad drivers on the road. If you’ve never been involved in a vehicle accident involving your company car, here are a few facts about liability you’ll need to know.

Vicarious Liability

In most situations, an employer will be responsible for the actions of their employees under an old doctrine called vicarious liability. Vicarious liability means the employer is responsible for any negligent actions or non-actions of their employees while working within the scope of their jobs. For example, if a delivery driver is bringing a package to its designated address and runs a red light, hitting a pedestrian in the process, the employer would be liable. However, any act within the course of employment must be authorized by an employer or be so closely related to an authorized act the company can be held responsible for it. Another important factor is the type of insurance your business carries. Many businesses have collision coverage that extends to employees, but some companies don’t. Make sure to understand the amount of coverage you have as an employee under the insurance policy.

Criminal Activity

In some cases, the driver himself or herself would be responsible for any accident resulting from negligence or recklessness. For example, if you drink and drive, and your inebriation causes an accident, your employer would likely not be on the hook for the expenses accrued because of the crash. For example, let’s say you have a couple of beers with your lunch. You think you’re able to drive effectively, but you accidentally rear end a car on the way to your destination. Because your inebriation could have led to your lack of attention, your employer’s insurance company is likely to refuse to pay for the cost of the damages, putting all of it at your doorstep.

Unsanctioned Driving

Your employer would also not be responsible for any driving you do outside the sphere of your job. For example, if you take the company car out for a joy ride after your shift, any accident resulting during that time would not be covered by your employer or his or her insurance. In this case, you were acting on your own initiative, rather than the instruction of your employer, when the accident occurred, making you liable for any and all damages.

If you’ve been in a car accident involving your company car, make sure to contact our experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys. Any injury you suffered during performance of your job makes you eligible for workers’ compensation, which will completely cover the cost of your medical bills and lost wages. Alternatively, if you were injured in a car accident involving the driver of a company car, you may have to sue both the employer and the employee to be fully compensated for your injury. Let Leonard Law Group take a look at your case and offer our experienced legal advice on what best to do in your situation.

Contact us at (312) 487-2513 or fill out our online form to schedule your free case consultation today.

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