Is an Employer Liable for an Employee's Car Accident?
Car accidents can be traumatic and often lead to serious personal injuries resulting in ongoing medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
The consequences of a car crash can be devastating. Thousands of people are killed in motor vehicle accidents every year and countless more experience life-changing injuries that can result in serious and permanent disability. According to the United States Department of Transportation, 94% of car accidents are caused by human error.
If an employee causes an accident while performing a work-related task, the employer may be liable for any personal injuries or property damage that result from the crash. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, it is important to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to ensure a professional handles your case from the start.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury lawyers have many years of experience representing clients who have been injured due to someone else's carelessness. We understand the laws that apply to these cases, and we know how to get our clients the maximum compensation possible.
We offer a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer to discuss your legal options. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you don't have to pay us unless we recover money for you.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship. Contact one of our personal injury attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation.
What Are the Common Causes of Car Accidents?
Multiple factors may influence the cause of a car wreck. Cars, trucks, and motorcycles travel at high speeds and cause significant damage. Weather, road conditions, reckless driving by other people, and driver mistakes all contribute to crashes.
Many factors contribute to driver errors, but the most common causes are:
- Speeding and tailgating
- Driver distraction
- Drunk driving
- Aggressive driving
- Driver fatigue
- Failure to see others on the roadway
Common Injuries That Can Result From a Car Accident
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were over 293,000 accidents in the state in 2018.
Approximately one in five of those accidents resulted in injuries, and one in 100 resulted in fatalities. A car crash or accident can result in the victim needing urgent medical care, and there can be a variety of different injuries sustained.
Our Illinois car accident attorneys have compiled data from across the state to post results at the Illinois Car Accident Settlement Center. The information provides insight into some common injuries resulting from car accidents.
Here is a list of some of the common injuries covered:
- Herniated disc injuries
- Knee injuries
- Facial and head injuries
- Neck injuries
- Shoulder injury
- Brain injuries
- Back injuries
- Cuts andlacerations
- Lumbar spine injuries
- Wrongful deaths
- Broken bone injuries
In many cases, these injuries are permanent and life-altering. Often the victim must have access to the maximum compensation from the responsible party's insurance coverage to pay for:
- Medical assistive devices
- Therapy and rehabilitation
- Future surgeries and ongoing medical treatment
- Medical adaptive equipment
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death claims in the event of a fatal accident
Who Is Responsible for Work-Related Car Accidents?
When an employee’s careless or accidental conduct results in an accident causing personal injury or property damage, the employer can be held liable under a concept known as vicarious liability.
If you are involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle or an employee driving a company vehicle, both the employee and the employer may be liable for a personal injury claim.
Employer liability is a complex area of law. In the case of employee car accidents, the employee must have acted within the scope of employment at the time of the wreck. The employee may have been driving a commercial, company, or personal vehicle.
Was the Employee Driving the Car for Business Purposes?
Whether someone was driving a car while on the job is not always clear-cut. If the employee was driving a personal vehicle at the time of the accident, more complex rules are involved, and vicarious liability may not apply.
For example, if the employee was driving their personal vehicle to and from work during non-working hours, running personal errands, or traveling for lunch during work hours at the time of the accident, vicarious liability would not apply.
However, if the employee was asked to make a work-related stop or run a business errand in their personal vehicle at the time of the accident, vicarious liability and employer liability would apply.
In some cases, the law of vicarious liability extends to an employee driving their personal car if they were running a business errand when the accident happened.
Employer liability is a complex area of law, but if the employee was driving for business purposes, the employer might be held vicariously liable for the employee's negligence. However, if the employee was driving for personal reasons, the employer may not be liable.
Respondeat Superior: So When Are Employers Liable?
Under civil tort law, every employer must follow the respondeat superior legal doctrine, making the employer automatically liable for an employee's accident in a company vehicle when the worker is found to be at fault.
The law specifies that an employer is liable for an employee's on-the-job actions that lead to an accident, as well as:
- Negligent hiring of an employee
- Negligent supervision of the worker
How Do I Claim Compensation for My Injuries?
If you were injured in an accident while driving a company car, you might be able to file a claim against both the employee and the employer. In cases where an employee was driving a company car, the employer might be liable for the employee’s negligence.
Typically, the company car carries vicarious liability through the employer's insurance company if the accident occurs while the employee is on the clock and not running a personal errand. The law considers this type of crash a work-related accident involving company property.
Some company insurance policies have specific exceptions that follow a standard "going and coming" rule, meaning the company is only liable if the employee was driving for work-related reasons at the time of the accident.
When More Than One Insurance Company Is Involved
It is important to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer in your state to determine what type of insurance claim you can file and against which responsible parties.
Our legal team often identifies multiple parties that could be listed as defendants in a car accident claim or injury lawsuit. In addition to the party at fault in a company car crash, potential defendants could include:
- Their employer and the employer's insurance carrier
- Any other driver involved in the collision
- The vehicle manufacturer that sold the defective car
The Statute of Limitations: The Time Limit to File a Company Car Accident Lawsuit
The state's statute of limitations will restrict the time injured victims can file a claim against any other driver at fault for causing the crash. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for car accident claims is two years from the crash date.
It means that if you do not file your claim within two years of the crash, you will be barred from doing so and will lose your right to compensation. It is important to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to make sure your claim is filed within the deadline.
Holding a Truck Driver and Trucking Company Responsible for a Commercial Vehicle Crash
Were you involved in an accident with a commercial truck and don’t know how to proceed with your case?
The first step is determining whether the trucker or the trucking company is liable for the accident. In some cases, both the driver and the company can be held responsible.
To do this, you will need to investigate the circumstances of the accident and gather evidence to support your claim. You will also need to prove that the truck driver or trucking company was negligent in their actions leading up to the accident.
Was the Trucking Employee Acting on Behalf of Their Employer?
All injured victims, including the trucker, could hold their employer liable for negligence if they were in a company vehicle when the crash occurred. The employer must ensure that the vehicle is properly licensed, adequately maintained, and carries proper insurance coverage in an accident.
Once the victim has gathered all available evidence, including medical records and the accident scene police report, they can file a claim with the truck driver's insurance company covering all medical bills and damaged vehicles. Additional compensation might be available in a personal injury lawsuit against the trucker or trucking company if injuries are severe.
The trucking company may also be legally responsible for negligent supervision if the trucker was working within the scope of their employment when the accident occurred, even if they were an independent contractor.
I Was Driving a Company Car When I Was in a Vehicle Accident Involved in a Crash! Can I Receive Workers' Compensation for My Worker's Related Accident?
In most cases, workers' comp benefits are available for employees' car accidents when driving company vehicles and performing job duties. The law might not be clear if the accident happened while working as an independent contractor.
Nearly every employer in the United States must participate in the workers' compensation system that holds companies liable for their employees suffering work injuries.
The employer must provide car insurance coverage for damaged vehicles and workers' compensation insurance policies for any work-related accident, including a car crash.
However, worker's benefits are limited and typically provide only sufficient funds to cover past and ongoing medical bills, lost earnings, and temporary/permanent disability pay.
Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney to Resolve an Employee Car Accident Claim
Were you involved in an accident while in a company vehicle or driving your personal car while performing your job duties? Are you an innocent car crash victim in an accident involving a company car?
The accident injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can work on your behalf to hold all responsible parties financially accountable, including the employer who owned the vehicle that caused you harm.
Call us today at (888) 424-5757 for immediate legal help, and schedule a free case consultation to discuss your compensation case. We accept all injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This agreement ensures you pay nothing until your case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.