When driving for a company or performing tasks on company time, employees are often using a company vehicle. Accidents can occur that cause damage to the company vehicle, injure the driver and harm others on the road.
When this happens, most drivers of company vehicles are unsure about who is liable for the accident. Does the responsibility fall on the employee or the employer to compensate the other party? This determination is based on a number of critical factors.
If you or a loved one sustained an injury during an accident in a company vehicle, contact our Harrisburg workers’ compensation attorneys at Schmidt Kramer for assistance with your accident claim. We can explain certain factors that can affect your case and how to proceed through the claims process.
Steps to Take After an Accident in a Company Vehicle
After an accident in a company vehicle, there are several steps you should take to protect your health and preserve your claim for compensation. These include the following:
- Make sure everyone is okay first. Do not move someone with neck or back injuries. Call for emergency medical assistance if necessary.
- Call local law enforcement to the scene. Report the accident and obtain a copy of the report at a later date.
- Exchange contact information with the other driver, including contact information, insurance details and driver’s license numbers.
- Take photographic evidence of the scene, including contributing factors and your injuries.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses present during the accident.
- Never claim responsibility for the accident or apologize.
- Write down everything, including an account of how you think the accident occurred.
- Obtain and document any medical treatment you receive for your injuries.
What Is Vicarious Liability?
Through a legal principle known as “respondeat superior” or “vicarious liability,” the employer is normally responsible for the actions of its employees. Through this concept, the company is liable for negligent actions or non-actions that employees engage in when working within the scope of standard employment. If an employee is negligent and hits another driver, the injured victim may be able to sue the employer if the employee was acting in the interests of the employer at the time of driving the vehicle.
When Does Vicarious Liability Apply?
Vicarious liability applies when the actions the driver performed were within the scope of employment. Examples of this include the following:
- Driving for the company as part of the normal job routine
- Driving to or on a job site
- Driving to any location under the instructions of the employer
- Traveling to and from client meetings
When Does Vicarious Liability Not Apply?
Vicarious liability usually does not apply if the employee is out of the scope of job duties or not given specific instructions. This may include the following situations:
- Making a detour for personal errands while traveling to the job site
- Driving to and from work and home
- Committing a crime, such as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving recklessly
Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and Liability Insurance
Both workers’ compensation and liability insurance are different forms of insurance that provide compensation in certain situations. Workers’ compensation insurance is for employees who suffer an injury on the job or while working for the company. This includes car accidents and activities performed at the direction of a manager or supervisor. It covers medical treatment, out-of-pocket costs and most often two-thirds of your average weekly wages.
Liability insurance is for damages sustained by a third party. This is normal with a commercial or company vehicle. It protects the employer with third party incidents for several different situations. Liability insurance may cover medical expenses, the full amount of lost wages due to the accident, property damage, pain and suffering and other damages, up to the policy limits.
Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Lawyer Today
If you were injured in a company vehicle, it is important to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at our firm. We can explain eligibility for workers’ compensation and how to obtain the benefits you deserve. If your claim is denied, we can help you with an appeal. We can also assess if you can file a third-party claim against the person responsible for the accident.
Contact us to schedule a free consultation. There are no upfront costs unless you recover compensation.
We look forward to helping you. Call (717) 888-8888 now.