It’s no secret that business travel can be stressful, and it can also be dangerous. While you’re on the road, the last thing you want to worry about is the possibility of being in an accident. But sometimes, things don’t go as planned. The question remains, in case of a crash involving your company’s or your vehicle, who will be responsible?
What You Should Do If You Are Involved In An Accident
Before getting into the details about liability, there are specific steps that you must take to ensure things don’t get out of hand.
Check For Injury
It can be a terrifying prospect being in a car crash and one which is amplified due to the adrenaline coursing through your body. You must ensure your safety and the safety of all parties involved.
Call Emergency Services
Even if nobody looks injured, you should always contact 911 or your local police department. They will come out and assess the damage and take statements from all involved. Furthermore, they should issue you an official accident report that you might need to use later in court.
Consult with a lawyer
In almost all cases, it is advisable to consult with your own or your employer’s attorney. They can help assist you through the legalities of what is happening and provide more clarity on the situation. As each jurisdiction will have differing laws, it is best to contact a law firm in your region. When searching for an attorney, personal injury specialists Krzak Rundio Law Group suggests that experience in this field is one of the most important factors to consider. Experience is especially vital in complex situations where you don’t know where the liability lies.
Car Accidents During Work: Employer Liability
The employer is responsible for ensuring that their employees are not put in dangerous situations while on the job. One of the ways employers can make sure this happens is by providing a safe workplace. Employers should also take measures to prevent their employees from driving while working. If an employee is at work when they get into a car accident, the employer will need to pay compensatory damages or punitive damages to the injured party. This compensatory or punitive damage depends on whether it could have been avoided by taking reasonable care. Additionally, many US states will have what is known as vicarious liability laws.
Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine that imposes responsibility on the employer for the actions of employees. The employer is liable for the torts committed by its employees while on the job or under its supervision. A person may be responsible for the tortious conduct of another person if they have the right to control the other person, as an employer directs an employee or as a parent commands a child.
When Is An Employee At Fault For An Accident?
There are a few instances where employers are not liable for car accidents. One example is when weather conditions beyond their control caused the car accident. Another exception is if it can be proved that they took every reasonable precaution to prevent injuries from happening, and they still happened anyway. Furthermore, you can be found to be liable for an injury or damage caused in a motor vehicle accident if you are found to have been negligent or reckless. The common-law rule is that one party is always negligent if the other party is not.
This one’s self-explanatory. You will be personally liable if you engage in criminal activity and cause an accident as a result. This could be speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or merely negligent driving (using your phone, not paying attention, etc.). If you are found to have caused an accident for any one of the reasons, your employer will not have to take responsibility.
Using The Vehicle Outside Of Business Use
If you use the company vehicle to run errands and crash, you might be liable for any damages. You are not using the car as intended, so it is out of your employer’s control. It doesn’t matter if you are using it during work hours or not; that issue remains if you were not using the car as intended.
If You Are An Independent Contractor
Unfortunately, independent contractors are typically on the line for any damages. This is because they usually will use their vehicle and not be directly employed by a company. This might be in the case of an Uber driver or food delivery person. Independent employees should ensure that their private vehicles are insured so that they are protected in the event of an accident on the job.
If you are using a company car, you should ensure that you have read the fine print in the contract. Some company vehicles may only be used during work hours and/ or for work purposes. If you crash while driving for personal use, you may be personally accountable if this is the case.
When Is Your Employer Responsible?
Although there are many cases when you might shoulder the blame, there are others when your employer may be at fault.
They Provide Faulty Car
It is your employer’s responsibility to provide you with a vehicle that is safe for the road. If you drive an unsafe car, you might not be liable for a crash. However, it gets tricky when you consider if you are using your own vehicle for company business.
They Force You To Work Even If You Can’t Effectively Operate A Vehicle
If you are ill or cannot drive, but your employer still forces you, they will be liable. Furthermore,e you might have an industrial action case if you protested but were threatened with dismissal.
They Want To Help You And Take Responsibility
Sometimes, you merely have a great employer who is happy to use the company insurance to help you. Nonetheless, they may only help if you handle your driving duties appropriately and not recklessly.
Employees are not always liable for damages resulting from a car crash. If the driver is part of the company’s sales force, the employer may be held responsible for any injuries caused by the collision. Employees are not held liable if they are traveling for business purposes. However, the person driving the car may still be responsible in certain circumstances.