Using a company car comes with perks saves you from fuel and maintenance costs unlike when driving a personal car. Although driving a company car can be economical, you might want to stop and ask yourself who is liable in the event of an accident? You? The employer’s insurance?
The answers to the above questions will depend on whether the employee was within the scope of their employment duties when the accident occurred, who caused the wreckage, among others. So, what will happen next, and what should you do after the accident? As with all legal situations, contact an auto accident lawyer in Alaska for legal counsel and assessment of your situation.
Liability in Auto Accidents
The law, under the principle of respondeat superior or vicarious liability, holds employers responsible for the carelessness of their employees who were working within the scope of their job descriptions, such as:
- Traveling to a work-related meeting;
- Making job-related deliveries;
- Performing off-site duties;
- Transporting colleagues;
However, driving to or from work isn’t covered under the provision of the rule. Also, you’re liable for covering damages if you were using a company vehicle for personal errands. You should seek clarification from your employment contract on your coverage in the event of an accident.
In simple language, your employer is liable for your accidents provided you were using the car for the benefit of your employer or company when the accident occurred although you could also be partially responsible–depending on the facts of the accident. The other driver is liable if they were at fault.
Payment of Damages in a Wreck with a Company Car
The at-fault party should pay damages according to the traffic act and if they have an insurance policy, their insurance must pay up. On the other hand, your employer’s insurer should compensate the plaintiff or the other injured party if you’re responsible for causing the accident while attending to the duties of your employer.
The “scope of employment” is not clear in some instances and your employer can take advantage of that– this is the time to contact an auto lawyer. The employer might be trying to avoid liability.
It’s important to understand your rights before driving company vehicles and if the issue of liability is not addressed in your employment contract, seek clarification from your employer. Otherwise, you can involve a car accident lawyer.
Independent Contractors Liability
The situation can be complicated if you’re liable for an accident as an independent contractor because employers are not responsible for the negligent acts of independent contractors. Consequently, independent contractors are considered liable for reckless driving that results in accidents.
Some employers require independent contractors to purchase insurance cover, particularly if their work involves driving–the insurer will pay the damages in this case. Independent contractors can file a claim with the other driver’s insurance if they’re not at fault.
Types of Auto Insurance Coverage for Company Car Accidents
Two types of insurances cover company car accidents, including:
- Liability insurance cover; and
- Workers’ compensation cover.
Liability Insurance Cover
Liability insurance is meant to compensate the injured party for:
- Current and future medical expenses related to injuries resulting from the accident;
- Lost wages;
- Pain and suffering.
Workers’ Compensation Cover
Workers’ compensation is awarded if the injured person has been incapacitated and can’t work thanks to the injuries. The redress in workers’ compensation can include:
- Medical costs associated with the accident injuries;
- Two-thirds of lost wages;
- Disability allowances.
Employees should seek clarification from their employers about their insurance options in the event of an accident. Employers should support their employees after an accident for the sake of goodwill. Unfortunately, that’s hardly the case and that’s where auto accident lawyers come in
The lawyer will evaluate your case and recommend the available and ideal legal options to their clients besides helping them file a lawsuit against the employer.
Benefits of Seeking Legal Help
The benefits of hiring an auto accident lawyer include:
Lawyers encounter similar legal situations every day, and they might have encountered a case similar to yours. They’re also familiar with what works and the measures to take for your case. Did you know that most lawyers can foretell whether you’ll win or lose a case?
Since lawyers are the experts here, you should take their advice positively. A lawyer can help you understand how the law impacts your situation and recommend the appropriate legal options available for your case.
Lawyers have networks of professionals whom they consult in certain situations. These professionals include investigators, doctors, accountants, and much more. Experienced lawyers understand the psychology of the jury they work with, meaning they know what works for the jury.
Do you use the company car for personal business during working time? Think again because you’ll be personally held responsible in the event of an accident at such times. An auto accident lawyer can help resolve auto accidents involving company cars.