Having a company car is a great benefit, especially if you have to travel a lot for your job. It’s nice to have a vehicle but not worry about the maintenance or wear and tear that comes after racking up the miles.
However, company cars have their drawbacks, especially when it comes to car accidents. Collisions involving company vehicles can be very complex issues. If you’ve been involved in one of these accidents, it may be helpful to speak with a company car accident attorney to help you understand your rights.
Who Pays for the Damage After a Company Car Accident?
Determining who pays after a car accident is slightly more complicated when you’re in an accident in your company car. Your employer may be liable for the other party’s damages, or vicariously liable. In other cases, you may be to blame.
The answer of who pays depends on the reason you were driving the company car and the exact circumstances of the crash. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s essential to understand the ways Nevada law handles the different aspects of these types of cases. You can then work with your car accident lawyer to determine how the circumstances of your situation may affect the outcome of your case.
What Is Vicarious Liability?
Vicarious liability means to hold someone accountable for the actions of someone else. In the case of an accident in a company car, it means to hold the employer responsible1 for the actions of the employee who drove the car.
An employer can be the one liable for something that their employee does. That’s because the employee is the agent of the employer when they’re driving for work. Vicarious liability is also called respondeat superior.
When Does Vicarious Liability Apply?
The primary test for deciding if vicarious liability applies is to determine whether the employee is acting within the scope of their employment when the accident occurs.
For example, a plumbing service dispatches a plumber to make a house call. On the way, the employee runs a stop sign and hits and injures another driver. In that case, the other driver can bring a case against the employer using vicarious liability. The employee was acting in the course of their employment as they traveled to the appointment with the customer.
Vicarious liability may apply in any of the following situations:
- Traveling to and from an appointment with a client
- Running errands for work
- Heading to a training meeting
- Any other place your employer directs you to drive
When Does Vicarious Liability Not Apply?
Vicarious liability usually doesn’t apply in these cases:
- When you’re driving to or from work
- Stopping for coffee while you’re driving to an appointment
- Going other places besides where your employer tells you to go
- When you’re committing a crime like drunk driving
- Other driving that’s outside the scope of your employment
How Does Fault Factor In After a Company Car Crash?
Even though you may have an employer that paid for your company car, for the other side to look to your employer to recover, you must be at fault for the accident. Nevada’s laws of comparative negligence2 still apply. Comparative negligence means that if you’re more at fault for the accident than anyone else, you can’t recover from anyone for your damages.
Another driver might want to try to hold your employer accountable for the crash because they might think the employer has the most money to pay out of everybody connected to the accident. Lawyers sometimes call this looking for deep pockets.
However, they can’t hold your employer liable unless you’re actually at fault for the collision. The same rules of fault and proving negligence apply just as they would in accident cases without a company vehicle.
What Happens When You Are Not at Fault?
If you are not at fault for the accident in your company car, the incident will be handled very similarly to any other common car accident scenario. Information will be exchanged, and the responsible party will be held accountable for your injuries and personal losses. Also, your employer’s insurance company will seek compensation for the damages to the vehicle in a separate claim.
Depending on your state laws, workers’ compensation may also apply to this accident if you were working at the time of the injury. An accident attorney can tell you what may apply in your situation and how much your claim may be worth.
Workers’ Compensation, Vehicle Insurance or Both?
Every state has different laws that apply to this type of scenario. In most cases, if the driver was injured in a company vehicle while working, workers’ comp benefits would apply first, with the car insurance company policy covering the rest of the losses.
Since worker’s compensation only pays for a percentage of your lost wages and your medical bills, the other insurance policy will be responsible for the remaining lost wages, lost benefits, and other damages like pain and suffering that may apply.
As you can see, the issue becomes very complex because both insurance companies will be very aggressive about trying to make the other one cover the majority of the expenses. Sadly, this can lead to the victim being caught in the middle of the fight.
This is why it is crucial to have a car accident lawyer manage your claim. Your attorney will protect your rights as an injury victim and ensure that the insurance companies treat you fairly.
What About Company Car Accidents Off the Clock?
If you are involved in a company car accident when you are off the clock, you will not qualify for any worker’s compensation benefits when you are injured. If you are not at fault for the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will be held responsible for your losses and injuries.
What Can You Expect After a Company Car Accident When You Are At Fault?
If your actions led to the accident in the company car, your company’s insurance policy would cover the event if you were on the clock. Your employer will fall under vicarious liability laws that state they are responsible for your actions while you are on the clock.
However, if you are not on the clock when the accident occurs, you will be held liable for the accident. Even though it is a company vehicle, the company is only responsible for your actions while you are actively working.
It is crucial to have personal car insurance coverage that extends to company vehicles. Without this coverage, you could be held personally liable for the damages caused by the accident.
Why Work With an Attorney After a Company Vehicle Accident?
Everything in your life changes the minute that you are involved in an accident. Injuries and losses can quickly become overwhelming, and dealing with insurance companies can make things even more challenging.
When you add in a factor like a company car, the challenge is even greater, and many people simply give up trying to fight for the benefits they are entitled to from the accident.
When you work with a personal injury attorney, you give yourself the benefit of not having to worry about the complexity of these issues. You can focus on your recovery from the injuries while your lawyer fights for the compensation you deserve. Your lawyer will:
- Investigate the accident
- Verify and value all of your damages
- Make sure the insurance companies do not undercut the extent of your injuries
- File a claim for compensation on your behalf
Free Consultation With Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorneys
If you were involved in a car accident in a company vehicle and need legal representation to help you get fair compensation, contact Adam S. Kutner, Injury Attorneys today. We won’t let the insurance companies or your employer bully you into accepting less than you deserve. Contact our accident attorney team today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation on your case.