Company car accidents are not as complicated as they may seem at first. We are going to spend some time here discussing the options available to employees and employers after an employee is involved in a car accident in a company car. What employees and employers need to know about workers compensation, personal injury, and car insurance claims.
To be specific, we are discussing car accidents where the driver was operating a company car, which differs from car accidents where the driver is operating their own vehicle while doing company work.
There are usually 5 specific questions that employees involved in company car accidents have, which we have outlined and answered here. Remember that all cases are specific, and your car accident is likely going to have its own specific elements. If you want to be totally sure, you should hire a personal injury lawyer directly. They will offer a free consultation so you can be sure and it won’t cost you a penny.
Now, onto the most frequently asked questions from clients who have just been involved in an accident with a company car.
Is This a Workers Comp Claim or Personal Injury Claim?
It can be a little bit of both. The employer will likely have workers compensation insurance to ensure that employees are covered in the event of an accident. It also covers the company and prevents (for the most part) employees from suing employers directly.
Workers comp claims give employees wages and pay them while they recover while also mitigating lawsuit risks for employers.
So, after a company car accident, employees could and likely will receive workers compensation benefits. However, employees could, and should also file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident.
That means employees could be receiving workers comp benefits and you could ultimately receive a large personal injury settlement if they sue the negligent driver and win or settle their case.
In legal terms, this is called respondeat superior which is Latin for let the master answer. We know you didn’t come here for Latin lessons but it’s important to note that this phrase means directly that. The boss, employer, or company is usually liable.
This will change depending on the situation and on your particular case. As we’ve mentioned, no company car accident is exactly the same as any other so we still highly recommend reaching out to a lawyer. Consultations are free so you have absolutely nothing to lose.
Question 1: Who Pays for The Damage?
A] You were not at fault: The employer’s insurance policy will cover all property damage.
B] You were at fault: The employer’s insurance policy should also cover all property damage in the case that you hit someone or caused the accident.
Question 2: Who Pays For My Medical Bills?
A] You were not at fault: The company workers comp insurance will cover the employee’s medical bills, lost wages, and some of the other costs associated with their recovery from the accident. However, you can also sue the at-fault driver for personal injuries and receive more money in a personal injury lawsuit.
B] You were at fault: Again, the employer carries insurance that covers you in case of workplace-related accidents. A company car accident in many cases, especially in cases where you were driving for work, would constitute a workplace accident. So the employee’s medical bills would be covered by workers comp even if the accident was your fault.
Question 3: Who Can The Employee Sue?
There are almost no cases where an employee would be able to sue your boss or company… only in some very rare circumstances. Workers comp would provide protection for employers the protection they need to cover them in case of a company car accident.
However, the employee involved in the accident will be able to sue the other drivers while collecting workers compensation benefits.
Question 4: Who Can The Company Sue?
Only in very rare cases could the company sue the employee for gross negligence of the driver or the other car who may have been at fault for the car accident. Again, the workers compensation insurance covers these claims allows for coverage which means there is no need to sue anyone.
Question 5: Who Can The Other Driver Sue?
If the employee was partially or totally at fault for the car accident, they may open up the door of liability for the company. The other driver may sue the company and the employee for damages that resulted from the car accident as well as for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
So what comes next? If you were involved in a car accident while driving a company car, one of the first things you should do is speak with a car accident lawyer. You can also speak to a West Palm Beach workers compensation lawyer who can help you file your a claim as well as your personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault or partially at-fault driver.
If you are an employer who faces a situation where an employee was involved in a company car accident, reach out to your legal team, or a lawyer as soon as possible.