A company car is an excellent perk that can come with many occupations. When you drive a company car, it can reduce some expenses from your monthly budget. Not only are you not responsible for any repairs or for the maintenance of the car, but in most instances, your gas is covered as well. Unlike owning the car yourself, you also don’t have to give any consideration to wear and tear or the amount of mileage you are putting on the car and how it will affect the equity you have in it.
Although this is seemingly a huge perk, if you are in an accident in a company car, it might not negate you from responsibility. Whether you are involved in a major collision or just a fender bender, if you are at fault then you may have to cover the repairs and damages. If you are wondering whose insurance is responsible, it is a question of exactly what you were doing when the accident occurred. The major deciding factor of liability rests on whether or not you were acting under the scope of your employment duties at the time you were in the accident.
Different rules apply to company vehicles versus personally-owned ones in the Tampa Bay area. The theory of vicarious employer liability is what determines who is liable for the accident damages. There are many exceptions to the rule, however, so it’s a good idea to know what your obligations are before you get behind the wheel, in order to avoid being left on the hook if you should have a collision in a company-owned car.
What is vicarious liability?
According to a car accident attorney Tampa professional, when you drive a company car, in most cases the employer is responsible for any damages or accidents where the employee is at fault. Due to the doctrine of “respondeat superior” or “vicarious liability,” employers are held liable for the actions of their employee, when that employee is working under the scope of their duties of employment. Even if the employee is negligent, the liability rests with the employer if the employee did so while they were acting as an agent and under the scope of their work-related duties.
If you are driving in a company car, like a delivery truck, and you get into a collision while making a delivery, then you would be operating under the scope of your employee duties. That would make the employer liable if you were at fault. If the accident occurs during business hours and you were performing a duty of your employment, then the owner has full liability for your negligence.
Before you accept the use of a company car, it is very important that you understand what your responsibilities are. If it is a company car, then the employer must carry a specific type of insurance policy that will cover their employees should anything happen. Many companies have collision insurance that extends to their employees, but to be safe, it is better to ask and make sure before you get behind the wheel of a car that is owned by your employer.
Exceptions to the rule
There are times when you will not be covered by your employer’s insurance if you are in an accident while driving a company car. If you drive the car outside of your regular duties or decide to take it out when you are doing things outside of the scope of work, then any resulting accident would be your liability.
Also, if you are caught doing something criminal, like driving while under the influence, that will negate your employer’s responsibility. If you are convicted of DUI, there is also the possibility that you will not be eligible to collect workers’ compensation, regardless of whether you were on the job at the time or not.
A company car can be a great incentive from an employer. Just make sure that you understand what your obligations are and the circumstances which would make you liable if something should happen. Don’t make assumptions that you are fully covered unless you get clarification from your employer.