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Liability issues for employees in work-related vehicle accidents

By Kurt Maier, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Many people drive a company car as part of their work. If you drive often, chances are, at some point, you’ll be involved in some kind of vehicle accident.

After you’ve made sure you’re not injured and that everyone else involved is OK, too, one of the first things that might come to mind is whether or not you’ll be liable for the damage caused by the accident. If you’re driving your employer’s vehicle with your employer’s permission, you are not liable in most circumstances for a work-related vehicle accident.

I address this very topic in a recent video I created. You can watch it here:

You will not be personally liable unless there are extreme circumstances, such as you were under the influence of illegal drugs, or were intoxicated, or driving in an extremely reckless manner.

In most circumstances, though, your employer’s automobile liability insurance will pay any damages incurred in the accident if you were at fault. The employer’s insurance company will also hire an attorney to defend you if you are sued following the wreck.

If you are not at fault in the accident, then the insurance company for the other party involved in the accident will pay damages, assuming the person has insurance. If they are uninsured or underinsured, your employer’s policy will likely handle any claims.

Tips following work-related vehicle accidents

Following work-related vehicle accidents, it’s good to remember a few tips that can help you later. First, remember that if you’re in a company vehicle and/or wearing company clothing, you are representing your employer. Those with whom you interact will see your behavior as a reflection of your company. Remain calm and professional, just as you would at work. Angry, defensive or violent behavior will only complicate your situation.

Second, take photos. Photos are good evidence of the damage to your employer’s car and the other vehicle. It may also be good to take photos of the scene of the accident, and also the insurance card or any other information from the other party involved.

Third, take notes of which police agency responded to the wreck.

Accidents in company vehicles are very common. While it may be incredibly stressful for you, and your employer, it’s often simply an inconvenience. If you would like legal advice following your accident, please contact me, Kurt Maier, at kmaier@elpolaw.com or call me at (270) 781-6500.

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