When you have access to a company car, you enjoy many benefits. For example, if you can drive a company car to meet clients or make deliveries, you do not have to worry about paying for car repairs. Workplaces will even pay for the car insurance, as long as you also have personal insurance and a valid driver’s license.
However, driving a company car at work or even when you are not at work can get a bit complicated if you are in a car accident. You might have many questions about liability. Who is responsible for damages in the car accident? How do you get coverage for injuries and lost income?
Here is what you need to know about what happens when you are in a car accident while driving a company vehicle.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you used your company vehicle to do your job, you will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, even if you were at fault for the accident.
For example, if you use a company vehicle to make deliveries and you run a stop sign and hit another vehicle, you should still receive workers’ compensation for injuries you sustain in the accident. If your employer tries to deny benefits based on fault, you should contact a personal injury lawyer to help you access the benefits that you need.
If you were not at fault for the accident, you definitely should not be denied any workers’ compensation. The other driver’s insurance company may end up paying for some of all of your expenses, but you should not have to navigate the legalities yourself. Your employer would be the one who deals with insurance payouts.
Sometimes, companies are slow to respond or they try to deny benefits to company drivers. Do not be left without compensation because your company is refusing to pay. Seek legal help if you keep on reaching dead ends when you request benefits.
Usually, even if you caused the accident, you cannot be held personally liable for the injuries and damages to other vehicles and property if you drove a company vehicle while working. Instead, the law holds your employer liable, and they will have insurance coverage to protect against lawsuits for injuries because of company driver errors.
For instance, when you use a company car to meet different clients, you could get into a car accident if you fall asleep at the wheel. The accident will be your fault, but the company you work for will assume liability because you would not have caused the accident in the first place if you were not at work filling the position.
If your company refuses to assume liability or treats you unfairly because of a car accident, contact a personal injury or car accident attorney.
Make sure you know what kind of coverage your employer’s insurance offers. You want to make sure that collision coverage extends to medical care and other accident-related expenses. If your employer’s insurance is not adequate, you might contact your personal auto insurance company to ask about what protections they can extend to you when you drive a company car.
All company drivers should be aware of some exceptions. First, the above protections only apply if you use the company car for work. This means that when you are not at work, you might not be able to claim workers’ compensation or avoid accident liability, even if you still drive a company-owned vehicle.
In addition, if you are at work but use the vehicle for something other than work, you could also be denied company insurance coverage. For example, if you are supposed to use a vehicle for food delivery but are miles away for your route when the accident occurs, you are not injured because you are working, and you assume full responsibility for your own injuries and damages.
You also have an exception for illegal or unacceptable behavior. The law will not absolve you of responsibility if you drive a company vehicle while drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs.
Sometimes, companies might have codes of conduct for drivers. If you broke these codes when you signed a contract to adhere to them, your employer might have grounds for denying certain benefits.
Companies could claim that employees broke rules or even drank while intoxicated in order to avoid paying for employees who received injuries while driving. You will need a lawyer to help you fight the false claims, especially if the circumstances of the accident are not clear cut.
You might find knowing where to turn to collect benefits if you were injured when driving a company vehicle challenging. Contact us at Shay & Associates for more information on employee rights and car accident injury claims, including when you’re behind the wheel of a company car.