If you run a business, you can expect to have people driving company vehicles even if you don’t operate in trucking or transport niches. Time and again, employees will have to run company errands, go out to meet clients, or for any other reasons. While driving the company vehicle brings several perks for the employees, there is always a risk involved. They can get involved in accidents, sometimes due to their own fault and at others, due to the negligence of other drivers. Whatever the reason for the mishap may be, you may get into a fix as the owner of the vehicle. It is good to be aware of the implications of company vehicle accidents by your employees so that you can handle the legal impact. Here are the various circumstances that you may encounter as a business owner.
Vicarious liability for an accident with a company vehicle
In a majority of car accidents involving business vehicles, an employer is responsible for the employee’s action under the doctrine of respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Under vicarious liability, the employer is liable for the negligence of their employees in mishaps that occur when working in the scope of employment. An act is said to be within the scope of employment if it is authorized by the employer. For example, if a truck driver hits a pedestrian while making a delivery during working hours, the employer will be liable for paying compensation to the victim.
Employee driving a personal vehicle for business
In another instance, the employee may be driving a personal vehicle but working for the business within their scope of employment when the mishap takes place. Once again, the employer will be responsible for the negligent action of the employee because he or she was on official duty at the time of the crash. The victim, therefore, can hold the company liable and seek compensation for the injuries caused by the accident. If you are an employee injured in a company vehicle mishap, you can check out these skilled car accident lawyers to represent the case and get the compensation you deserve. In some cases, the driver and company may both be accountable for the mishap if the employee was driving under influence or while texting.
An independent contractor driving a commercial vehicle
Corporate accidents are not just confined to business vehicles being handled by people working as permanent employees only. There are cases where an independent contractor may be driving a vehicle for business purposes. For example, a person who owns an 18-wheeler may be serving as an independent contractor for a company and transporting their products. Once again, the company offers coverage to the driver with its auto insurance policy and may have to pay the compensation to a person injured in the accident with the vehicle.
The employee gets injured in the accident
Your woes as a business owner wouldn’t end with the compensation to the accident victim with your company vehicle. As the employer, you will also have to compensate the employee injured in the mishap. Their injuries will be covered under workers’ compensation claim that typically pays up their medical bills, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses for the worker. Further, if the injuries lead to a long-term disability, you may need to give them a massive amount in settlement. Paying the worker’s compensation is your responsibility as an employer because the person was injured in the course of duty.
Proving the employer’s negligence
Generally speaking, the business will be liable for the negligent actions of the employees as long as they have acted within the scope of employment and business hours. There could be a number of reasons why the employers may be considered liable for negligence even if they haven’t anything to do directly with the crash. For example, you can expect to face such a situation for poor hiring practices, lack of employee supervision, and failure to verify the previous records of the driver. Lack of regular maintenance for business vehicles is another practice that can land you in trouble.
Although traffic accidents in business vehicles cannot be completely avoided, you can still prevent them. The key lies in prioritizing safety as your culture and educating your workforce about going the extra mile with adherence to traffic rules. Also, hand over the company vehicles only to trustworthy people with clean records on the road. At the same time, you should be prepared for paying compensation to the victims and injured employees because their safety is your responsibility as long as your vehicles are involved.