When Is My Employer Liable for My Car Accident Damages?
Wondering how to handle an accident in your personal vehicle on company time? The answer to this question often requires some information gathering and analysis to determine whether an employer is liable for accident related injuries and
In Virginia, coverage for injuries sustained in a car accident starts with the insurance covering the vehicle that caused the accident. For example, if you are driving your personal car on your own time and cause an accident, you are usually liable for any injuries and property damage you caused the other driver as well as your own medical costs and damages.
The situation may change, though, if you are acting within the scope of your job when you cause the accident, even when it happens in your personal vehicle. Under these circumstances in Virginia, your employer may also be held liable for any damages you caused in the accident. This article will address how to handle an accident in a personal vehicle on company time.
What is Vicarious Liability?
Virginia law relies on the legal principle, of respondeat superior, which means “let the superior answer.” Respondeat superior is a type of vicarious liability that spreads the liability out to a group of people or some type of organization. In certain situations, an employer may have vicarious liability for any of your negligent actions which occurred while using your personal car. Those instances where your employer could have vicarious liability for company car accidents include the following situations when you are acting within the “scope of”:
Acting Within the Scope of Employment
- If you were working and getting paid when the accident happened;
- If you were driving your own personal car as part of a work related task when the accident occurred;
- You were carrying out a task your employer requested that you perform. In this case, the employer may have been “dictating” the employee’s behavior, which is one of the factors used to determine vicarious liability;
- You were doing something to benefit the employer
Accident in My Personal Vehicle on Company Time: When an Employer May Not Be Liable
If you caused an auto accident while driving your personal vehicle, an employer and employer’s insurance company may escape liability if:
- You were not working at the time, for instance, driving for personal errands or other tasks
- You were commuting either to or from your job and the accident happened when you were off the clock (Please note that there are exceptions to this example where an employer may still be liable)
Driving Your Personal Car for Work
If you are driving your personal car and are carrying out duties for your employer when you are involved in an accident, your employer may be on the hook to pay for any bodily injuries that you suffered in the car crash itself. Generally, an employer in Virginia is responsible for paying for personal injuries suffered by an employee who was working at the time of a car accident, unless that employee was obviously not on the clock as in the example of running a personal errand. The important thing here is showing that you were carrying out a duty for the employer at the time of the accident.
In a work-related car accident, will my employer pay my medical bills?
In Virginia, the employer may be liable for providing workers comp. insurance coverage for their employee’s injuries. These injuries can happen in various settings, including factories, offices, restaurants and other settings. An employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage can even be used to cover an employee’s car accident. In this case, you and experienced workers comp. lawyer will want to file a workers compensation claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission to determine whether you may be entitled to lost wages and medical treatment coverage.
Insurance Coverage After a Company Car Accident
If you are involved in a car accident with a company vehicle in Virginia, the liability insurance coverage responsible for payment will follow the vehicles involved. For instance, if the car crash occurred due to the fault of another party, the liability insurance coverage on that vehicle will be liable for paying damages. If your company car insurance policy has coverage for medical expenses payments, you may be entitled to collect additional insurance coverage for your medical bills, possibly including pre-existing conditions.
If you cause an accident while driving company property, the insurance coverage on the company car will be responsible for paying for injuries and damages suffered by the other driver. The insurance on the company car will likely cover the property damage on the company vehicle. If you sustain injuries in an accident you cause while in a company car, the insurance coverage on the company car and/or your own personal insurance policy may provide some coverage for medical expenses.
Independent Contractors and Car Accidents
If you are working as an independent contractor at the time of the accident, there can be some especially complex insurance coverage rules that apply. In the case of a rideshare driver using your own car, you are required to carry your own auto insurance coverage. But rideshare companies and independent contractors often have other insurance policies and coverage as well that may provide additional coverage in some circumstances.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
Car accident victims who’ve been hurt in a car accident while working, you’ll want to discuss the details of your situation with an experienced car accident lawyer who can help determine employer liability. At the Ritchie Law Firm, we help our injured auto accident clients by serving as a Wall of Defense against the employer liability insurance company so you don’t get hurt twice!
Our personal injury attorneys will help when you are seeking compensation by:
- Obtaining evidence, such as photos of the accident scene, medical records/bills, accident reports, witness statements, etc., so you can obtain the highest financial recovery possible;
- Protecting you from the insurance company by maintaining communication with the insurance carrier so you don’t have to;
- Explaining Virginia law and how it affects your case;
- Negotiating with the insurance company to make certain you get a fair settlement;
- Discussing your options so you can make the most appropriate decisions for your case;
- Taking your case to trial if there is no out of court settlement.
Accident in My Personal Vehicle on Company Time: Do I Really Need a Car Accident Attorney?
You may be wondering if you really need an attorney after an accident occurs. The answer is, it really depends on your individual situation. Some personal injury cases are settled without going to court. However, if the other driver denies responsibility in car accident case or if the insurance company denies your claim, you may need a law firm to take legal action to get the compensation you deserve.
If the insurance company is giving you the run around, the Ritchie Law Firm is here to help. The experienced, certified personal injury attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm will help you make them pay for their recklessness. DON’T GET HURT TWICE!! We have helped thousands of injured people get the money they deserve.
Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.
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Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result car accidents because of their own negligence or someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.
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