Driving a company car is a great benefit. You save on gas money, and you don’t have to worry about putting too many miles on your own vehicle. As careful as employees are driving a company car, others on the road might not be as cautious. So, what happens when you’re involved in a crash with a company car and you sustain injuries?
The first thing you should do is seek legal counsel from an experienced California car accident attorney. They can work to hold the other driver responsible and be the point of contact for all accident-related matters with your company.
What to Do Following a Car Accident
The steps you take after a collision in a company car are the same ones you’d take had the accident been in your vehicle.
Exchange Contact Information
Speak with the other driver and retain a copy of their insurance policy, as well as their contact information. You should also gather any witness contact information at the scene and pass it along to your employer.
Report the Crash
After police make a report of your accident, you will want to inform your employer. Make sure to report the accident and your injuries to your manager or HR department. Provide as much information as possible, such as how, when, and where the accident occurred. After you inform them, you should request a copy of the claim for your records. You should do this as soon as possible.
Visit a Physician
In addition, you’ll want to have a doctor examine your injuries. Even if you think you only have a few cuts and bruises, a doctor can diagnose any internal injuries.
What Is Vicarious Liability?
Vicarious liability is a legal principle in which one party is held responsible for the actions of another. For example, a court may hold employers liable for the actions of their employees. So when you’re injured in a company vehicle, your employer might be legally responsible for any injuries.
When Does Vicarious Liability Apply?
As long as the employee acted with the company’s best interest in mind or conducting company business, vicarious liability applies. Let’s say you were driving a company car to a work-related event and cause an accident on the way there. In this instance, vicarious liability would apply, and your employer might be responsible for the accident.
Keep in mind that vicarious liability is a nationwide standard. Although, lawmakers determine what the extent of it covers so it varies from state to state.
When Does Vicarious Liability Not Apply?
Any time you are not working for the company, vicarious liability will not apply, even if you’re driving a company vehicle. This includes running a personal errand or conducting non-business activities. It also does not apply when you are driving to or from work, meaning you will need to take matters related to your accident into your own hands.
Worker’s Compensation vs. Liability Insurance
Worker’s compensation covers employees who are injured on the job, including employees in car accidents. Worker’s compensation will typically cover medical bills, some of your lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.
Liability insurance, on the other hand, pays for any damages another driver sustained. Your employer may have a general liability policy or a commercial vehicle one. General liability protects the company by paying for damages caused by accidents, such as slip and falls or car crashes. Commercial vehicle liability is similar to car insurance, except it has a much higher limit. However, suppose you were doing non-business activities in the vehicle. In that case, the company may not cover your injuries or the other driver’s, and you may need to seek legal representation to proceed with your claim outside your employer’s policies.
Can I File a Worker’s Compensation Claim and a Claim against the Other Driver?
You typically do not have to choose between filing a civil claim against the other driver and a worker’s compensation claim. Keep in mind that if you accept a worker’s compensation package, your employer may have a lien against any compensation you might receive from a third party. This means that they would be eligible to receive a portion of your settlement offer.
Speak to an Experienced California Auto Accident Attorney
If you sustained injuries from a car accident while in a company vehicle, it’s important to immediately retain legal counsel. You have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim in California, so the sooner you contact the auto accident attorneys at Setareh Law, the better.
Our attorneys can guide you through the entire claims process and will keep your best interests in mind the whole time. To schedule a free consultation, call (310) 659-1826 or complete a contact form.