Company Car Accident: Who Pays?
If you are hit by someone driving a company car and you sustain property damage or bodily injury, what effect does this have on a subsequent lawsuit? Responsibility for an accident is determined by the law of negligence. Considerations such as speed, weather conditions, driver impairment, and driver conduct are considered in all motor vehicle accidents. However, if you are injured by someone driving a company or government vehicle, other considerations come into play.
Stages Of an Injury Lawsuit
Generally, if an employee injures someone while acting within the scope of his or her employment, the company can be held liable under the theory of respondeat superior. The theory is that since the employer was performing the company's work at the time of the accident, the company, in addition to the employee driver, should be responsible for any negligence of the employee. This is generally advantageous for injury lawsuit plaintiffs because it provides another entity that can pay a judgment in favor of the plaintiff.
Who Is Responsible?
What if the employee is driving a company car, but is using it for personal, not company, business at the time of the accident? The company owner of the car can still be found liable in this situation. A car owner is required to use due care when allowing someone to drive the vehicle. If the company failed to check the employee's driving record or should have known that the employee had medical or other conditions that impacted the operation of the vehicle, it can be found liable for negligent entrustment of the vehicle.
In addition to respondeat superior and negligent entrustment theories of liability, many states make the owner of a vehicle strictly liable for any injuries caused by employee drivers. This also means that the company's liability will not depend on whether the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident. Vehicle owners can also be found liable if the accident was caused by the owner's failure to properly maintain the vehicle. Depending on whether the car is owned or leased, an additional company could be responsible for vehicle maintenance.
If you are injured by the driver of a corporate or government vehicle, contact an experienced car accident attorney who will make sure all potentially liable defendants are named in any subsequent litigation.