Who Pays After a Company Car Accident?

The question of who pays for a company car accident really has no simple answer. In fact, it can become a very complicated situation. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident of why you were driving the company car and the details of the accident, who exactly is responsible for damages could change?

Vicarious Liability

The legal concept of vicarious liability is when parties that were not present at the time of a car accident can still be held liable for damages. In company car wrecks the employer, not the employee that was driving the car, can be held responsible for damages. That’s because the employer is the agent of the employee, and therefore responsible.

Special Circumstances

The key to vicarious liability is, the employee must be furthering the employer’s business at the time of the collision. For example, an employee is responsible for any damages that would happen while driving a company car outside of business hours or duties. Taking an employer’s car for a joyride or for personal use would automatically negate the vicarious liability law.

Fault of a Third Party

To further complications, unless you as the employee are at fault for the accident, then your employer would also not be responsible. If a person in another vehicle was speeding or driving recklessly and caused the accident, then it would be their responsibility to pay for damages to the company car. However, they would still deal with your employer’s insurance company and not yours.

You Are Negligent

Another special circumstance would be if you are driving a company car, it’s work-related, and you are to blame for the accident due to careless or dangerous actions. For example, you are on a business trip and stopped for dinner and had a couple drinks. If you got into an accident because you were intoxicated, you are out of the scope of vicarious liability and would be responsible for any damages to the company vehicle or to anyone else involved.

Who Is To Blame

Typically when an accident occurs, insurance companies will decide who is at fault and who is responsible for damages. In a case of company accidents, the insurance adjusters will find out who is to blame and if that person was acting in the scope of employee duties at the time of the accident. Oftentimes, the insurance companies can settle any disputes out of court, but you may have to go to court and have a judge decide.

When Can an Employee Seek Workers’ Compensation

Provided the employee was driving the company car as part of their work duties, any injuries that the employee might have or any time lost at work will be the responsibility of the employer. Costs such as lost wages, medical bills, and treatment costs must be paid for by the employer. The employer is not responsible for any compensation if the employee was using the company vehicle in a non work-related way.

What To Do If You’ve Been In A Company Car Accident

If you’ve been in an accident, call law enforcement and if there were any injuries call 911. The police will document the accident, but if you’re able to gather information from anyone involved and take photo evidence of the scene, do so. Contact your employer to report the crash and seek medical attention for any injuries. If you’ve been hurt in the accident, you should contact an experienced worker’s compensation attorney. 

Kevin Thompson