Company Truck Accident: Is the Business Financially Responsible?

Truck accidents can be some of the worst on the road due to the sheer size of the vehicles. The aftermath of an accident involving even just one of these road trains can cause carnage for everyone involved. If you own the truck and you’ve had an accident then you should be aware of the following procedures regarding insurance and the claim process. But what happens if you’re in an accident in a company-owned truck? 

Independent Contractor? 

Firstly it’s important to look at your employment status to see if we are covered under any rules set by the company. If you have your own truck, pay for all of its upkeep and gas, and simply drive routes for a company then it’s probably safe to say you’re an independent contractor. Not receiving any employment bonuses is another sign of self-employment, as is the company not withholding taxes in your paycheck. Once we know if we are fully employed, we can move on to seeing who is liable. 


If your truck is insured then the insurance company will pay for any damages done to the vehicle in an accident. If it’s a company truck then the insurance policy will probably be in the company name, but that’s not to say if they deem it the employee’s fault they won’t ask for repayment over time, or in a lump sum.

When Is The Company Liable? 

There are often many things that need to be discovered before we can truly pin the case on anyone, including if it was within the scope of employment and who was at fault. There is a theory of liability based on an old Latin phrase “Respondeat Superior” which translates as “Let the superior answer”. This suggests that the employer would be liable for any acts caused by the employee, as long as they were within the scope of employment and were not deliberate. A responsible company should have read more info about truck accidents, and some help if you’re unsure about liability. Vehicular accidents involving company-owned vehicles tend to get confusing for some and make no mistake, insurance companies will take advantage if they are given an opportunity. It is only wise to consult practicing legal professionals to be sure of how your policy works and what type of compensation you are entitled to.

What Is Within The Scope Of Employment?

 Quite simply, being within the scope of employment is when you are on duty doing your job. For example, John is making deliveries and accidentally drives into the back of another car on the road, this means the company would be liable for any damages caused to the car in front. If John took a shortcut, stopped for a meal, rests on a truck stop, as long as he is driving from point A to point B as directed by the company then he is acting within the scope of the company and any accident to happen in between should be covered by the company. 

What’s Outside The Scope Of Employment? 

Anything outside the scope of employment would be classed as performing a task that’s not to do with your duty as an employee. Making quick detours to meet your friends for lunch would be deemed as outside the scope of employment. Anything illegal would also be classed as outside the scope of employment. For example, Johns decided to make some extra money by delivering some extras to a few people along his route, if he crashes whilst delivering some illegal goods then the company is not liable. Finally, Independent contractors would be classed as outside the scope of employment because they are not legally employed by the company, meaning they would be liable instead. 

Intentional Acts By An Employee 

Any act that is performed by an employee that is not deemed an accident or part of his usual duties would be classed as an intentional act and would, therefore, make him liable and not the company. 

For example, John has discovered that his neighbor has been bad-mouthing him, so he decides the best course of action would be to drive his truck into the neighbors’ car. This, of course, is an intentional act on behalf of John and would deem him solely responsible and liable for any damages. 

State Regulations

There are many regulations set by each state as to how a person must act and look after his truck. These include how much weight a rig can pull at any one time, the upkeep and care of the truck itself and even how much rest the driver must have between jobs. If a driver is at fault when it comes to having an accident, it will usually because one of these rules or statutes has been personally broken.

When it comes down to it, getting involved in a road accident driving a truck could be catastrophic but if the worst does happen, knowing that you’re working within your scope of employment is enough to get compensated properly by your insurance provider. As an owner, make sure all your drivers are properly trained and monitored during their trips. As a driver, be cautious at all times and treat the truck as if your own and this will ensure a safe trip every time. 


Annika Bansal

Annika "The Chick Geek" is the founder of Small Business Sense shares small business ideas, tips and resources for independent Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners.