Getting into an accident is stressful enough, but what happens when the car you were driving isn’t technically yours? Leases, family member, and company cars are excellent examples. While each can be complicated, one of the most confusing can be an accident involving a company car. So, what happens then?
Commercial Auto Insurance
The fist question to ask is whether your employer purchased commercial auto insurance. In most cases, the provider then pays for any claims stemming from the accident. That is, of course, as long as you were properly operating the vehicle. You will probably have to answer some questions, but your employer should do most of the talking with the insurance company. The right commercial auto insurance covers you for accidents, injuries, and other incidents that can put those investments at risk.
If You Are at Fault
There are times when you may be required to pay your employer back for expenses related to the accident. That all depends on any contracts or agreements you signed when you were offered a company car.
In most cases, however, your employer is responsible for their employees’ actions under “respondeat superior” or “vicarious liability,” both of which are legal doctrines. This only applies if you were using the company car in line with your employment duties. So, a night out the bar to show the car off doesn’t count.
Being at fault can be incredibly tricky in a legal sense. If your employer is asking you to pay or you weren’t using the car as you should have, it’s in your best interest to lawyer up. Pick someone highly skilled in this area of the law, like this car accident attorney in San Francisco, and discuss your options.
Scope of Employment
One of the trickiest parts of company car accidents is determining whether you were acting within the scope of employment, or doing your job duties, at the time of the accident. While making deliveries or driving to a client’s house qualify, it isn’t uncommon for employers to argue that you were not directly working at the time.
Of course, things like running personal errands or other actions unrelated to work are well outside the scope of employment. That’s true even if they happened during working hours. Picking up your kid from school in-between stops is an excellent example of a non-work-related activity.
If you work independently for someone else, hire an attorney immediately in this scenario. There are complex factors the court will consider in determining who is financially responsible. Some of those include:
· Control over how the work is performed
· Nature of the work
· Skill level requirements
· If you’re freelancing is a distinct occupation or business
· Which party supplies tools or items for the job
· Payment agreements
· If you’re freelancing is a regular part of the employer’s business
· If the employer can terminate your freelance work at any time
Cover the Basics
Regardless of how the situation happened, you still need to take care of all the basics after the accident. That includes calling the police if needed, getting the other driver’s information, swapping insurance information, and writing down their license plate. Don’t forget to collect information from witnesses, as well. All of this will make the coming process easier to handle.