6 million car accidents take place on US roads during any given year. That’s thousands per day.
While most people that get into car accidents will have been taking drives for personal reasons, some will be involved in collisions during the course of their work duties. In those cases, what happens?
Are you in trouble? Does your company bear all responsibility? Does it matter if you were driving a company vehicle?
There are a lot of factors that can weigh into liability discussions when you’re talking about workplace accidents. To try and bring clarity to the conversation, here’s a step-by-step of what should take place when involved in a work-related or work-adjacent accident.
Get to Safety
Whether you’re in a company vehicle or a personal vehicle, when you’re in an accident, don’t spend time thinking about liability. Take every moment you have to assess your situation and do what you can to get into as safe a position as possible.
Once you’re to safety, call law enforcement, if necessary, and/or work with opposing drivers to exchange contact details.
Call a Lawyer
All car accidents beg a lawyer that specializes in the practice area of collisions. Accidents that involve employers require legal help even more so given complexities regarding liability (more on that next).
Therefore, before you get on the phone with any party other than medical/law enforcement, we recommend reaching out to an accident attorney, if for no other reason than to get on their calendar for a discussion at a later date.
With a lawyer in your corner, you’ll now start going through the process of assessing liability. If you were in an accident on your way to work, coming home from work, or during work hours but while doing a personal task, you’re almost certainly 100% liable.
If your accident took place while doing anything that was asked of you by your job responsibilities, either implicitly or explicitly, your employer may share “vicarious liability”.
How that liability manifests itself will be for attorneys and insurers to work out. Just know that if your accident happened while you were technically “on the clock” that information should be disclosed to your representation.
Have Your Lawyer Build Bridges With Your Company
Your attorney should help protect your interests during serious accidents that take place during work hours. Hopefully, in doing that, they don’t alienate your employer from you and cause stress in your relationship.
After all, most people involved in company accidents will want to get back to work as soon as they’re able.
Let your lawyer or any party representing you know that your relationship with your company is important. That should help set the tone for the conversations they have and asks they make.
An Accident in a Company Vehicle or on Company Time Can Get Murky
If you’re in an accident while driving a company vehicle or a personal vehicle, so long as you were driving while managing company-related tasks, your company could share accident liability. That may mean additional payouts for you if you’re a victim or help paying out victims of accidents you initiated.
At the end of the day, shared liability with a business vehicle is a murky subject. This is why lawyers must be in your corner as you work through details.
We wish you the best as you assess a company vehicle accident that you may have been in. We also welcome you to browse more content on our blog if you’d like additional insight on other business and lifestyle topics.