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Employer Liability for a Car Accident

Employer Liability for a Car Accident

Employer liability for an employee’s car accident can occur when the worker is using their personal vehicle for work-related purposes. Today, many businesses, including home delivery of fast food, rely on their employee using their own vehicle. An employee may use their own vehicle to go from one destination to another for company business. This changes the dynamics of liability if the employee has an accident. The employer now becomes liable for costs emanating from the accident as long as the employee was on the job when it happened. There are restrictions to this, and not everything is covered. Let’s look at an employer’s liability in such situations and what is and isn’t covered.

How Does an Employer Become Liable?

Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine that holds one party responsible for the negligence of another under specific circumstances. Employers can be held liable for an employee’s accident if it occurred during their employment hours. This includes car accidents where another person is injured. The key question is whether the vehicle the employee was driving was being used for their employment. For example, let’s say the person’s employer asked them to go to the post office when they left for the day. If the accident happened on the way to the post office or even in the post office parking lot, the employer would be responsible for injuries. But, what if the employee left the post office, and as they were going home, an accident happened? The employer would no longer be responsible since the employee was no longer on the job.

Stopping at Starbucks Might Be a Problem

Another instance where the employer might not be liable is not as clear cut. What if the employee goes to the post office but is expected to return to work? If the accident happens as they travel to the post office and back to the office, the employer is liable. However, if the employee decides to stop at Starbucks and get a coffee and an accident happens in the parking lot, the employer will not be liable. In this situation, getting the coffee did not benefit the employer but the employee. This can become even more complicated. Let’s say the employee needs to take a different route than he would take to get back to the office to get to Starbucks. The accident could happen on this stretch of road. In such cases, the accident injuries may not be covered.

Are Employers Ever Directly Responsible for an Accident

Vicarious liability does not rest on the employer’s negligence but simply that the employee was working for him or her when the accident happened. There are cases where the employer can be considered negligent, however, resulting in direct liability. This can occur when the driver was not properly trained or if they must meet a short deadline when they are in transit. It can also be the case if an employee with a bad driving history was hired without the employer going through the vetting process. Sometimes, both direct and vicarious liability coexist in a case.

Car Insurance

The employee’s car insurance will be used to pay for damages up to the limit of their policy. Sometimes, the policy limit is not sufficient to pay for the necessary compensation. This occurs when there are multiple people involved in the accident, and the cost is more than the employee’s car insurance covers. The remainder of the cost is then covered by the employer. An employer can add their employees to their business insurance policies to be covered. It is important to note that an employer is not responsible for damage to his or her employee’s vehicle.

Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento car accident lawyer. When you are in an accident, you need the insight an injury lawyer can provide. Contact me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. If it is easier for you, reach out to me online.

I’ve advocated for clients in the area for over 37 years. In all types of car accidents and traumatic injuries, I’ve helped them get the compensation they deserve.

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