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Accident While Driving Personal Vehicle for Work

Is an employer accountable for the injuries an employee gets in an accident if a boss orders him or her to leave work early for work vehicle-related tasks? Yes, an employer is most certainly accountable for the activities of an employee who uses his or her personal car for work purposes (employer liability).

If an employee is required to have a personal vehicle for work-related purposes so that they can deliver packages from one location to the next, would this mean that the employer is liable for the damages that occurred when the employee had a car accident? The answer is yes.

Also, if an employee is on the job when the car accident occurs, its employer will almost certainly be held accountable for the injuries sustained and losses they caused under the vicarious liability theory.

What Is the Definition of Vicarious Liability?

What Is the Definition of Vicarious Liability?

The Latin phrase "vicarious liability" means "let the superior answer." It's commonly referred to as vicarious responsibility, and it occurs when one person is held accountable for the damages produced by another's negligence. Additionally, it is the legal principle that holds employers liable for their employees' negligent behavior. This includes employers being held liable for car accidents caused by negligent driving while employees use their personal vehicles for a company.

Essentially, the provision is that the employee's personal vehicle must have been used in the course of his or her work at the time of the accident. Although it appears to be a simple concept, it raises several problems if one is involved in such an accident:

  • Was there any profit to the employer as a result of the employee's actions?

  • Were they forced to drive from one company site to another as part of their job?

At the Time of the Accident, Were You Acting Within the Scope of Your Employment?

If an employee agrees to take parcels to the post office at their employer's request and has a major car accident on the way, the employee is most likely working within the scope of employment. This is because the employer benefits from their action of taking business goods to the post office in their personal car.

However, if an employee has dropped off the products, stopped for dinner, and is now driving home when they have an accident, the company will not be liable because they were no longer "on the job."

What happens if an employee rear-ends another vehicle and their vehicle is damaged on corporate property, or they suffer a minor accident while traveling to a meeting at a different location? An employee's personal insurance would most likely cover these. If an employee has any questions about accident coverage, they should contact their personal insurance company immediately.

Business Site to Business Site

This scenario is a little more complicated and is dependent on multiple variables. An employer is usually never liable for a serious accident that occurs while an employee is traveling to and from work. Nevertheless, if their job requires them to examine a job site, pick up supplies, make a sales call, or engage in any other business-related activity, the employer will be held accountable if they cause an automobile accident.

However, what if an employee stops along the way to pick up their dry cleaning and has an accident either on the way there or after they've dropped it off? This is a tricky scenario for which there is no simple solution.

Insurers and personal injury lawyers will work together to sort out the facts and assess the circumstances of the case. Additionally, a trial may be necessary to get a final decision.

Employer and Employee Insurance Policies

With one exemption known as the livery exception, personal car insurance coverage may or may not insure car owners for business usage of their vehicles. Essentially, this means that if an employee uses their car to transport products or persons for a fee, they are not covered by their insurance. This is true whether they're using their vehicle as a taxi or delivery truck and not just for a normal work trip.

Employees who use their cars for business purposes may be covered by their employers, but it is not guaranteed. Before an employee agrees to use their car for professional purposes, they must make sure that their company has coverage.

Liability Insurance vs. Workers' Compensation

A worker's compensation and liability insurance are two distinct types of insurance:

Employees are covered by a worker's compensation insurance in the event of a work-related injury. This includes injuries sustained while performing a work-related duty in a car accident. Medical expenditures, out-of-pocket expenses, and a percentage of lost wages are all covered under workers' compensation benefits.

Liability insurance compensates an individual for third-party losses. General liability coverage and a commercial vehicle insurance policy may be in effect at an employee's place of business. Furthermore, a general liability policy protects a business by covering damages to third parties caused by a variety of events, such as customers tripping and falling on a company's property.

A business vehicle policy is similar to a regular auto policy with the exception that the coverage limits are usually considerably larger. As with any auto insurance policy, there will be coverage exceptions, which means that the policy will not pay out in certain situations. If the driver was on personal business, for example, the insurance company might not pay out.

The exceptions specified in a general liability or commercial vehicle policy can be written in convoluted legalese and is open to interpretation. An insurance company will use these terms against an employee.

One of the first things a personal injury lawyer will do when they are hired is to obtain copies of the employee's company's insurance coverage.

Was the Driver an Employee or an Independent Contractor?

It's not always easy to tell whether a worker is genuinely an employee of a corporation, especially since the rise of the so-called "gig" economy. From a practical sense, the line between an employee and an independent contractor may appear hazy, but it is a crucial distinction in the eyes of the law.

In most cases, if the person who caused a person's injury was working as an independent contractor at the time, no corporation will be held liable (as an employer typically would). However, when a corporation provides insurance for its independent contractors, there can be some gray areas (such as accidents involving rideshare drivers).

Commercial Vehicle Collision Damages

A work-related accident claim can result in the following losses:

Medical Expenses

When attorneys meet with vehicle accident victims, the most pressing issue on their minds is how to pay for their medical bills. A vehicle accident attorney can help them! However, under Ohio workers' compensation legislation, an employer will be allowed to select doctors that an employee can see from a network of workers' compensation doctors available.

Pain and Suffering

An accident can be traumatic, especially if someone is left disabled or deformed as a result of it. Attorneys understand that victims go through a lot of mental pain, and many think victims should be compensated for it. Pain and suffering are not covered by workers' compensation, although these can be included in a case against a non-subscriber. An attorney can also help those who are worried about becoming unemployed if they got hurt at work.

Wrongful Death and Burial Expenses

In the event of a tragic workplace accident, wrongful death damages are given to the victim's family.

Lost Income

If an employee is injured in a work-related car accident, they'll most likely need to take time off to recover. Furthermore, if they are unable to work for more than seven days, Ohio workers' compensation income benefits will reimburse a portion of their lost wages.

Note that the amount of income benefits one can receive is limited by the Ohio state weekly average pay. Workers' compensation income payments have a maximum weekly benefit rate of $950 at the moment.

Important Terms to Know When Filing an Accident Claim

Important Terms to Know When Filing an Accident Claim

When it comes to work-related car accidents, an employee knowing the concepts used by attorneys and insurance companies might help. Below is an explanation of the most important terms:

Negligence is when a vehicle operator fails to act appropriately or does something that no normal driver would do. Driving the wrong way down a one-way street, for example.

The word "liability" signifies "responsibility." In most car accidents, the at-fault driver or vehicle owner is responsible for the victim's losses.

Individuals or enterprises other than the employee and their employer are referred to as third parties. The occupants of the other car who ask for money if a person causes an auto accident while driving the company car are called third-party claimants.

Get a Worker's Compensation Lawyer Now!

An employee should not waste any more time attempting to read the fine print on their own.

Larrimer & Larrimer has extensive experience with workers' compensation cases, in addition to a nationally recognized commitment to victims.

A workers' compensation attorney in Columbus OH can help an employee get back on track and defend their rights along the way. Learn here how workers' compensation attorneys get paid for the costs.

Now is the time for an employee to get a free case evaluation or free consultation!

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