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When Is a Driver’s Employer Responsible for Their Accident?

Sunny day in car

While most auto accidents involve drivers in their personal vehicles on their own time, things can get more complicated if your accident involved an employee traveling for work-related reasons. How might this affect your ability to get the compensation and treatment you deserve? Here are three scenarios and what they mean for your injury case.

1. An Employee Commuting To or From Work

Generally, employees are considered to be off the clock as they travel to and from their workplace. This essentially means that the individual’s personal vehicle insurance and any related coverage (such as through homeowners insurance) will primarily cover an accident in which they are at fault. The employer would usually not be liable for the accident.

Some exceptions exist to this general rule of thumb. If the employee’s vehicle was necessary for their work, the commute to get it there might be considered as part of the employer’s responsibility.

When might this happen? Perhaps the employee is expected to use their personal vehicle during work hours to drive to a sales call. The commute may then be ruled as part of the employee’s job and, therefore, under the responsibility of the employer. Similarly, if the employee works at a temporary location but the employer didn’t want to pay for a rental car, it could be liable for accidents.

2. An Employee in a Company Vehicle

What if the person who caused your accident was in a company vehicle? If the person did company business in that vehicle, the accident is likely going to fall under the employer’s responsibility and be covered by the company’s insurance policies.

A few exceptions exist to this rule as well. If the employee used a company vehicle for approved reasons and then went on their own personal errands, the company might not be liable. In addition, if the employee engaged in any illegal activity on their own — and without the company’s knowledge — while in the company car (such as drinking and driving), the business may not be liable.

A business’ liability for accidents in its own vehicles is particularly serious if you can show that the company was negligent about that vehicle. If they allowed an employee with a bad driving record or insufficient experience to drive a company vehicle, this could be direct negligence. If the business failed to maintain that vehicle or failed to follow any safety procedures or proper maintenance, you have a strong case for negligence.

3. An Employee Using a Personal Vehicle at Work

As with company vehicles, a personal vehicle trip could be part of the employee’s job if the employer expects that a person carries out job duties using it. The key to this liability is to determine if the employee was doing business with the approval and under the direction of the company.

If the person’s job description, for instance, stipulates that the employee pick up the company’s mail each day at the post office using their personal vehicle, an accident that occurs on that errand would likely be the company’s responsibility. If the employee took it upon themselves and didn’t seek approval or if they decided to handle a personal errand, the business may not be liable.

Do you need to learn more about the potential liability of a company for its worker’s accident? Start by consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney. At Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy LLC, we know injury law. Let us help you determine who is really responsible for your injuries as well as how to get the most compensation from all parties. Call today to make an appointment.

  • In 2020, we settled or won, at trial/mediation/arbitration, 112 personal injury cases. Our clients recovered over ten million dollars. Our firm set a record in 2020 by settling 15 cases for $200,000.00 or more. In the last eleven years, we have settled/won over one thousand cases and our clients have recovered over 100 million dollars.
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  • Results may vary depeding on your particular facts and legal circumstances.
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