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Understanding company vehicle accidents and liability

| Nov 10, 2020 | Workers' Compensation |

Many employers require employees to drive company vehicles. An employee in Kansas likely thinks that their employer will handle the costs of the incident through their insurance. That may be true if they get injured and are not at fault. However, if they cause property damage or injuries to other drivers, their employer may not be responsible.

What to know about company vehicle accidents

Statistics show that employers pay around $25 billion annually for employee motor vehicle accidents. Payouts average $65,000 for non-fatal injuries and $671,000 for fatal accidents involving employees.

Employers should have liability insurance that covers property damage and injuries to third parties. In most cases, the settlements get paid through the company’s vehicle insurance, but the providers often try to get out of paying claims. If an employee did not cause the accident, they could file for workers’ compensation.

When the employee is responsible

After a company vehicle accident, the most essential thing to do is to determine fault. The company must prove negligence, or acting irresponsibly, on the part of the employee. For example, running a visible stop sign or driving the wrong way would be considered negligence in most cases. An employer may not cover a work vehicle accident if the employee commits a crime or is using the vehicle frivolously on personal time.

Some companies do not cover independent contractors, such as pizza delivery. These drivers usually need their own insurance.

When the company is responsible

The respondeat superior refers to the relationship between employees who use company vehicles on the job and employers. It makes employers liable for anything their employee does on the job.

The liability coverage should absolve the employee from paying out of pocket to a third party. The Federal Tort Claims Act commonly protects federal employees who stay within the scope of the job duties.

Whether drivers are at fault or not for the accident, they should be treated fairly. They still could be entitled to workers’ comp benefits regardless of fault. If an employer denies workers’ compensation, a lawyer may be able to help the employee file an appeal.

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