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A Look at When Employers are Legally Responsible for Accidents on the Road

The typical auto accident involves an individual who is off the clock, driving his or her personal vehicle. However, when an employee is involved in such an accident when driving for work-related purposes, things become a bit more complicated. Let’s take a look at a couple such scenarios.

An Accident Involving an Employee Driving a Company Vehicle

If the person who causes the accident is using a company vehicle, the accident will be the employer’s legal responsibility and covered by its insurance policies in instances when the worker is performing company business in the vehicle. However, there are a couple exceptions. If the employee was using the company car for approved reasons and proceeded to use the vehicle for personal activity, the employer might not be legally liable. If the employee partook in illegal activity while using the company car, the employer probably won’t be found liable.

However, if it can be shown the employer was negligent in respect to the vehicle involved in the accident, its liability will likely be quite extensive. As an example, if the employer permitted an inexperienced driver or one with a poor driving record to use the company vehicle, it constitutes direct negligence. Furthermore, if the employer fails to properly maintain the vehicle or adhere to safety procedures or maintenance procedures, the case for negligence will be that much stronger.

A Worker Driving to or From Work

In general, workers are considered off the clock when driving to and from work. In other words, a worker’s personal auto insurance and related coverage will prove applicable to accidents they are at fault for. The employer is rarely found liable for such accidents. However, there are exceptions to the prior statement. If the worker’s vehicle was essential to complete work, the commute to get the vehicle to work might be viewed as a component of the company’s responsibility.

As an example, if the employee is expected to use his or her car during work hours to commute to a sales call, the vehicle is essential to the job and the employer will likely bear legal responsibility. Even if the worker labors at a temporary location and the employer refuses to cover the cost of a rental vehicle, that group might be found liable for accidents involving the employee’s vehicle.

An Employee Using his or her Personal Vehicle While at Work

A personal vehicle trip can be a component of an employee’s job if the business expects him or her to perform job-related duties while using the vehicle. However, it must be determined if the employee is doing business with the company’s approval and under its direction. If the approval and direction are not provable, the employer will likely escape liability.

The employee’s job description is particularly important. For example, if this description states he or she must pick up the business’s mail at the post office with the use of a personal vehicle, any accident that occurs while performing this task will be the employer’s legal responsibility. However, if the worker failed to obtain approval to use the vehicle or decided to perform a personal errand, the business might not be liable.

Reach out to Schibell Law Today

If you are injured while driving, your focus should be squared on reaching maximum medical improvement and returning to work. Let the attorneys at Schibell Law handle your legal challenges so you can expedite your recovery. Reach out to us today at 732-774-1000 to coordinate a free initial consultation. Our experienced team led by Richard Schibell is looking forward to speaking with you.

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