Car Accidents Involving Company Vehicles Can Be Complicated. Let’s Take a Closer Look
Car accidents are a universally unpleasant experience, but the aftermath of an auto accident with someone driving a company car can be especially difficult to navigate. That is because there are a variety of different factors that can affect liability and, subsequently, what your path to a settlement looks like.
To that end, let’s explore exactly how the law can differ if you’re involved in an accident in Colorado with someone driving a company car.
Determining Liability in a Company Car Accident
Figuring out liability in these cases can be complex, as it ranges on a variety of different factors. How your case plays out can be impacted by whether or not you were acting on behalf of your company during the accident, along with whether or not the vehicle is insured.
First off, if the other driver is totally at fault, then many unique considerations around driving company cars WON’T come into play. For example, if someone is sitting at a red light and the other driver accelerates into the back of their company car, it’s clear that their behavior caused the auto accident and their insurance is required to cover it.
If a driver in a company car is partially or totally at fault, however, this can change.
A major factor in assessing this is a legal term that’s referred to as “vicarious liability.” Put simply, this means employers are responsible for the conduct of their employees while those employees are on the job. An employer is considered liable for any actions an employee takes while acting under the scope of their employment.
For example, if a delivery driver is driving a van along their daily route and rear ends another driver, then their employer is potentially liable, putting them on the hook for costs of repair, medical bills, and other expenses.
However, if this same hypothetical delivery driver is using their van to pick up their kids from school, then things are different. As they are using their company car for personal reasons, they are considered liable for any auto accidents they cause.
What if Someone Is Driving Their Own Vehicle for Work?
If someone is driving their own vehicle for a job—such as making deliveries for UberEats—then their employer likely WILL NOT cover the accident. Some drivers can purchase an optional “rider” from their insurance company that will cover them in the event of a company vehicle car crash during work, but this is an exception, not the rule.
There are a few other common exclusions to employer liability, such as if the driver is an independent contractor. Additionally, a driver is automatically held liable if they are driving while intoxicated or otherwise impaired.
Who Pays in a Company Car Accident?
Depending on the circumstances of your Colorado company car accident, you could be dealing with two different insurance companies that are both trying to settle for as little as possible. That’s not a pleasant thought.
A majority of company vehicles are covered by an insurance policy that’s taken in the company’s name. This means that the company is liable for harm caused by these vehicles, regardless of who is driving. If the driver’s employer is determined to be liable for the reasons listed above, then the claim should be resolved through their insurance company.
The opposite is true: if the other driver is found to be acting outside the scope of their job while driving, then the claim will be filed against their personal insurance, similar to other common types of auto accident personal injury cases that we’ve talked about before.
In either case, it’s important to have an experienced company car accident attorney on your side. Assessing liability and determining your path forward can be challenging after an auto accident that involves a delivery vehicle, commercial truck, or other company car. Following a traumatic auto accident, you should be able to focus on recovery without having to worry about negotiating with company car insurance companies.
That’s where McDivitt can make a difference.
Car Accident Attorneys in Colorado
For the last 40 years, we’ve been representing victims injured in accidents that involve company vehicles. We believe that victims involved in auto accidents in Colorado deserve to be made whole after their lives are disrupted, and that’s why we fight tirelessly to secure the compensation that our clients deserve. With offices in Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo, there’s a reason why we’re Colorado’s most trusted personal injury law firm. We make sure you know and understand the questions to ask a lawyer after a car accident. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and see how McDivitt can make a difference in your case.