Driving a company car comes with plenty of advantages such as not worrying about how you will fuel it, wear and tear or putting miles on it. However, when you get into an accident with the company car, who should be held liable? Is it your employer? You, the employee or the person at fault for the accident?
The first issue your employer will address is whether or not the accident occured while you were conducting work related errands.
Vicarious Employer Liability
In most instances, employers are held liable for their employees actions or inactions while working within the scope of their employment. This is what is described as vicarious liability. For instance, if an ambulance driver runs a red light and hits a motorcycle rider, the medical facility that hired him to do the job will be held liable for the accident because the driver was acting within the scope of his employment.
Keep in mind that in order for an employees actions to be considered to be within the scope of employment, they must be closely related to duties that the employer authorized them to perform.
The type of insurance liability that your employer carries should also be considered. Some employers buy policies where the collision coverage does not extend to employees. It’s important to clarify which type of coverage your employer’s car insurer has before you accept to handle the company car.
Criminal Activity, Employees and Company Cars
Imagine this. An employee who regularly uses the company car to commute to work decides to use the company car to drive out of town to meet a client for dinner. After dinner, the client decides to have some fun and invites the employee to an evening of fun at a popular club within the area. The employ indulges in drugs that impair his ability to drive. Instead of calling a cab, he decides to drive back under the influence. Unfortunately, he hits a pedestrian and the car veers out of the road.
The fact that the employee was driving under the influence of drugs and his after-work activities were not within his scope of employment, the employer can refuse to compensate the pedestrian and the employee under workers compensation and personal injury lawsuit.
Defenses to Vicarious Liability
An employer facing a vicarious liability suit will try to prove that you were not acting within the scope of your employment. They might also argue that you are not covered by workers compensation.
Employees not Covered by Workers Compensation
Nearly all employees are covered by workers compensation but the below types of employees are not:
Some federal empployees like postal workers are covered by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Program.
If you are an independent contractor, you will need to have your own private disability insurance.
These employees are protected under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act.
Members of the Military
If you are a military member, you cannot sue the U.S government for injuries suffered while on active duty or during combat.
Seafarers and Harbor Workers
If you are in this category, you are either covered by the Jones Act, a federal law or by the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act.
If you work in a household, your employer will only cover you voluntarily.
If you are a seasonal or migrant worker, your employer is not required to offer compensation to you.
If you are a coal worker, you are eligible to receive payments under the Black Lung Benefits Act.
Get a Free case Evaluation
If you’ve been in a company car accident in Providence, RI, we might be able to help. This applies to whether you have have been hit by another company car or you were both at fault for the accident. We can assess your case, listen to your side of the story and determine how much your case is worth. Proving vicarious liability sometimes might not be as straightforward as we all expect. Contact our Providence car accident lawyers at Kevin P Landry Law Offices today for a free initial consultation. We will only charge you if we win your case.