If you are involved in an on-the-job auto accident, does any claim you make fall under workers’ compensation, or is it labeled vicarious liability? What exactly does work-related mean in reference to a car accident? Can you sue your company in the event you are injured in a vehicle accident while at work? Lots of questions arise when a car accident occurs, especially if you were performing a task on behalf of your employer when the incident occurred.
Many employees run errands for their employers on any given day. And, while as an employee, you are using your own car and have your own insurance, if you are in an accident, even if you are at fault, some liability may fall to your employer. Let’s explore the facts.
Errands for Work in Your Personal Vehicle
If your employer reimburses you for mileage, you are obviously acting within the scope of your employment, but what if you were simply running an errand, like dropping the company mail at the post office? Business errands, just like other acts you perform on behalf of your employer, are nearly always considered acting within the scope of employment. Why? Because acting in the scope of employment means your employer benefits from your activity, even if it is just dropping off the mail. You are still on the job even if you are using your personal vehicle.
Now, on the other hand, if you stop at the post office, and then head elsewhere, you are no longer on the job, which means your employer won’t be liable should you have an accident. Similarly, if you are in an accident traveling to or from work, your employer typically isn’t liable. The exception comes if, as a part of your employment, you make sales calls, inspect onsite projects, pick up orders, or perform other business functions, and are in an accident, your employer may be liable.
Vicarious liability is applicable when one entity is liable for damages caused by the negligence of another. In this case, the liability is on the employee when the employee is acting in the scope of his or her employment, i.e., while working or traveling for work. The principle includes responsibility for vehicle accidents resulting from employee negligence while using personal vehicles for business activities.
Vicarious liability allows victims to sue employers for injuries and damages caused by their employees while working. For example, if you drive to the post office for your employee and cause an accident, the victim can sue your employer which is generally more lucrative than suing you. It can also protect you, because you were acting on behalf of your employer, vicarious liability means your company is liable even if the incident happened outside of the normal work environment. While it sounds simple, determining if you were truly “on the job” is the key which is often answered by determining if your employer benefitted from your activities.
If you are unsure if your accident was “on the job,” please contact our attorneys for a complimentary case evaluation.
Does Your Car Insurance Have a Role?
You may be wondering if your car insurance plays a role in an accident that occurs while you are working. The answer is yes, in most cases. Your car insurance will likely cover injuries and damages, but in some cases, where there are multiple victims or expensive vehicles involved, your coverage is not enough.
If this occurs, the victims judgments would fall to your employer and his or her vicarious liability. If your employer is regularly calling on employees to use their personal vehicles for work-related activities, they might consider adding those employees to the company car insurance coverage to help in this scenario. Even so, your personal coverage would still be primary, and then the employer’s coverage would kick in if your coverage falls short.
To get the compensation you deserve, you should contact an experienced attorney who will fight for your rights. Insurance companies won’t fight to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
What if You are Injured?
What happens if you are injured in an accident while driving your personal vehicle for work-related activities? In most instances, your vehicle insurance would pay for your injuries up to amount of coverage you have in place, then workers’ compensation would pay for further injuries or lost wages up to the allowed maximum. For a worker’s compensation claim, there is no need to prove “fault,” as you can, in most cases, collect workers’ compensation benefits even if you are at fault. Of course, you must have been driving as a result of a work-related activity and you must not have been driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
If you were not at fault in the vehicle accident which occurred while you performed work-related activities, you should file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer as well as a personal injury against the driver who was at fault in the accident.
If you need legal advice as a result of a car accident during work, call on the expert legal team at Benn, Haro, and Isaacs, PLLC. They have offices throughout Florida and offer FREE consultations for you. The team at Benn, Haro, and Isaacs, PLLC is ready to help you, with personalized representation, get the compensation you deserve.