Company Vehicle Accidents – What should you expect

January 14, 2022

Company Vehicle Accidents – What should you expect

company vehicle accidents
The roads in some parts of Arizona are crowded with tractor trailers, fleet vehicles, company vans and big trucks. All these vehicles are necessary to keep the Arizona economy running, but they also pose a huge danger to everyone in traffic (vehicle driver, other cars and passengers, even pedestrians too). So it shouldn’t surprise you that there are many company vehicle accidents which can cause more drastic and severe injuries and damages to small and lightweight cars. What might surprise you is that in the event of company vehicle accidents, it’s the actual company that can be responsible. This is can make a huge difference in personal injury lawsuits and today we are sharing some useful information on these types of accidents and what you should do if you even get into one.

Scope of employment in case of company vehicle accidents

If a company employs a driver, the company is responsible for any company vehicle accidents that that driver might cause. This applies in both scenarios, whether the driver was actually driving the company vehicle or not. If the drive was within the scope of his/her employment, the commercial insurance policy should cover the company vehicle crash. If for example, the drivers are involved in company car accidents, then the driver will likely be covered by the employer if, of course, at the time of the accident, the driver was acting within the scope of employment. In order to consider it to be within the scope of work, the driver’s actions have to be delegated and authorized by the employer or to be so closely related to her or his work that the employer can be considered responsible. So if the driver was using the company car to drive to business meetings, do deliveries or even to travel to an off-site location or make pick-ups, if he/she gets into company car accidents, the employer will most likely be responsible. However, we must emphasize that driving to or from work usually doesn’t fall under the “scope of employment”. This of course isn’t a strict rule and there are some exceptions such as picking up material on the way to work or going to mandatory company function after work. The easiest way to determine whether a certain action was within the scope of work is to analyze whether that specific action was authorized and conducted for the benefit of the employer. If it was authorized and it’s for the benefit, that it will likely fall into the scope of work. Let’s provide more specific examples. If employees are late from work and they cause company vehicle accidents because they were speeding (trying to get to work as soon as possible) that wouldn’t normally be considered within a scope of employment. But if company vehicle accidents are caused while the employee is driving, let’s say to a sales meeting, then this would fall within the scope of employment and the company can be held liable. These are simple and pretty straightforward scenarios. But what if the employee is going to a business lunch, has a few drinks and then ends up crashing the company car? The business lunch part of this scenario would suggest that this is within the scope of employment, because it’s done for the benefit of the company. However, drinking alcohol is not for the benefit of the business and the driver wasn’t authorized for it. So in this case, the driver’s actions outside of the scope of employment were likely the ones that caused the accident which means that the employer won’t be held responsible.

Are company vehicle accidents covered?

No matter if company vehicle accidents were caused within the scope of work or not, the automobile insurance for that vehicle will probably cover the damages. But if the insurance isn’t sufficient to cover everything, then we must establish whether the company vehicle accidents were caused by actions within the scope of work or not, to determine if the employer can be held liable or not. Being in a company car isn’t enough to determine if the employer is responsible or not. Company vehicle accidents have to be just that – an accident. They must happen by chance, unexpectedly and unintentionally. So road races are not covered. So in order to hold the employer responsible, the action which caused company vehicle accidents, has to arise from the scope of employment. So terms like “while working” or “at work” aren’t sufficient. The action which caused the accident has to be authorized by the employer or has to be done for the benefit of the company. If you’ve been injured in a company car accident in Arizona, it’s very important that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney for guidance and directions. At Schenk Podolsky, we have vast experience in handling all forms of personal injury cases, helping our clients get the compensation that they are owed.