All vehicle crash personal injury claims are not created equal. They differ not only in the scale of damages but also in terms of the liability of multiple parties. Car crashes can occur because of several reasons, such as mechanical failure, human error, or weather-related factors. Things can get more complicated if you are involved in a car accident with a company vehicle. The legal implications of such crashes can be different from the accidents and injuries that involve personal vehicles.
The employer is Liable for Company Vehicle Crashes
In most cases, accidents that involve an employee driving a company-owned vehicle would eventually be the responsibility of the employer. The employer’s insurance policy should extend liability coverage to the employees. In addition, this is something you may want to double check since the fine contract language may hold the employer solely liable for the vehicle being driven by an employee.
Employers’ liability coverage is usually applicable to car accidents that take place when company drivers are using the vehicle in the scope of their job description. Insurance companies don’t usually cover accidents that take place when the employee is not on the clock. For instance, a salesperson that gets into an accident while using the company vehicle to drive to a sales meeting will probably get insurance coverage.
Based on this, if the same salesperson gets into an accident when going back home after clocking out for the day may be held personally responsible. Another instance in which the insurance company will not cover claims is if the employee was driving while intoxicated or distractedly among other things. These types of cases are generally disputed by the employer for violating company policy (drinking on the job.)
Employee Liability in Company Vehicle Car Accidents
There are certain circumstances in which employees are held liable for any property or personal injury following a crash involving a company vehicle:
The employer’s insurer will not cover any claims that involved any illegal activity. Drinking while under the influence is a common scenario on Florida streets. You may meet with a client at a local bar or restaurant.
By the time you are done with the meeting, your blood alcohol concentration is above the permissible limit. Rather than calling a cab, you get behind the wheel of the company car and unfortunately meet with an accident. The insurance company will not cover damages in this situation.
Accidents that occur while on personal business are not covered under the employer’s insurance coverage. You and a few colleagues may have stepped out for a business meeting but decided to take an extended lunch hour at the mall. While searching for a parking spot, you bump into another car. You may be personally liable for the injuries and accident even if the accident took place during business hours.
Drivers are not covered for injuries resulting from accidents that take place during non-business hours. In most circumstances, commuting to and from work, taking the car for personal use, or going to the beach on the weekend, among other things is considered to be outside the scope of employment.
Third-Party Liability for Injuries Sustained in a Company Vehicle Crash
Employer’s workers’ compensation insurance is responsible for covering any work-related injuries sustained by the employee while on the clock. This covers injuries sustained in a company vehicle crash as well. Necessary and reasonable medical expenses are covered under workers’ compensation. A percentage of lost wages and other related costs may also be covered.
You should look for workers’ compensation for reimbursement if you sustain injuries in an auto accident. You may be able to file a personal injury claim against a third party as well if they were responsible for the crash. This can include the other driver too. You may be able to recover damages for direct monetary losses, such as lost earnings and medical bills.
Personal injury claim also allows compensation for intangible losses, including mental anguish, pain and suffering, and psychological distress. These are a few examples of third parties that may be at fault for the accident:
- Shipping or cargo company that may have improperly loaded or overloaded the vehicle. This usually happens with large commercial trucks.
- The party responsible for maintaining the car.
- The party responsible for maintaining the roadways.
- The supplier, manufacturer, or distributor of a faulty car or a car part.
Determining the root cause of an accident and the party at fault requires a thorough investigation. This should be done as quickly as possible for preserving critical evidence and putting together a strong claim.
The situation becomes more complicated if you are an independent contractor and were involved in a car accident. Employers don’t have the same level of responsibility in such cases. You are probably going to be responsible for the damages if the accident was caused by your actions.
Consult a Seasoned Car Accident Attorney in Florida Today
You should be aware of your legal options if you were involved in a car accident while driving a company car. The lawyers at Whibbs Stone Barnett, P.A. can help you understand your rights and take the necessary steps for claiming the compensation you deserve. To request your complimentary consultation, call 850-500-1111 or write to us online.