Having use of a company car is a great perk. Instead of putting wear and tear on your own vehicle, you can use the company car, possibly saving on gas as well. However, getting into an accident in a company car creates many headaches regarding insurance and liability. What steps should you take?
Our Conyers car accident lawyer highlights what basic information you need to know. Reach out to MG Law for more information.
Gather Insurance & Other Information
You need to do the following to preserve your right to compensation:
- Get the other driver’s name, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance information. You will also share the same. If more than two vehicles were involved, you need information from all vehicles.
- Take pictures of the damage as well. You can use your smart phone to get pictures of all dings, scratches, and missing car parts. Take pictures of any debris field and skid marks.
- Remember to call the police to come out to the scene and write a police report. A report helps document the accident.
Contact Your Employer
Because your employer owns the car, they need to know about the accident. Chances are, they have bought insurance on the vehicle, so they will need to contact the insurance company.
You also might have been injured while working. Some people travel for their job, to conferences or to meet with clients. If so, you could have a workers’ compensation claim. Your employer needs to be timely notified of the accident so you can qualify for benefits. In Georgia, you have 30 days to notify your employer, but there is no reason to delay.
Of course, you might not have been traveling for work. Generally, you cannot receive benefits if you were injured driving to your workplace or home at the end of the day. Nevertheless, the fact remains: your employer needs to know about the accident.
Fault matters in an accident involving a company car just as it would in a crash involving your own vehicle. Under Georgia law, the party at fault for the accident pays compensation to victims.
Does this mean you will have to pay money if you were at fault? Possibly. However, most claims are made on the insurance policy, which your employer should have purchased and paid premiums for. Of course, you could still be sued personally if your negligence caused the accident. But that doesn’t happen very often.
If you were harmed in the accident, you also need to know who is at fault. You will make a claim on that person’s insurance. Often, another driver on the road is to blame. Maybe they ran a red light or failed to stop in time and crashed into you. This is why you got the insurance and personal information for all people involved in the crash.
However, it might be the case that your employer is to blame. If the car was defective when you got it, then your employer might share some of the fault. For example, the brakes might have failed soon after receiving the vehicle, or a tire could have blown. An employer who delivers an unsafe vehicle shares partial fault for the wreck.
Georgia law allows fault to be apportioned among multiple parties. Never discount the possibility that your employer is at least a little bit to blame for the accident. Your attorney might need to inspect the vehicle to check.
Understand Vicarious Liability
As a rule, Georgia allows injured victims to sue a person’s employer when an employee injures them while working. This is called “vicarious liability.” It exists to help those injured obtain compensation after an accident. Really, it is a legal concept based on fairness. Employers typically have “deeper pockets” and can pay compensation when an employee hurts someone.
If you were at fault, then the victim might sue your employer in addition to making a claim on the insurance policy. For vicarious liability to apply, you will need to have been working at the time of the accident. Generally, this means running errands for your employer, traveling to or from a client, or traveling for a training or conference. Driving home at the end of the day or driving into work in the morning are not situations where an employee is “on the clock.”
You also can’t have committed a criminal offense. If you were drunk on the way to a client appointment, for example, then your employer is not responsible. The same is true if you intentionally hit someone out of anger or road rage.
Why do you need to understand the rules of vicarious liability? Because the victim you struck could sue you personally. And if they win, they could come after your assets to collect on the court judgment. Often, however, an employee can avoid responsibility if their employer ends up paying the judgment.
Get The Car Repaired
Your employer should tell you where to take the car to be fixed. If another driver was at fault, then their insurance should pay to fix property damage. If you were at fault, your employer might have collision insurance. This is no-fault insurance you can use even when you cause a wreck. Many insurers have networks of body shops that they use. You take the car to the shop to be fixed and they invoice the insurance company.
What happens if your employer has no collision—and you are at fault for the crash? Your employer might bill you. That’s the reality you might face. If you were really at fault for the accident, chances are you could pay. You need to look at the agreement regarding use of the car. Also check company manuals and handbooks, which might have language regarding who pays if you cause an accident in the company car.
Get The Legal Help You Need
An employee driving a company car is in a tight spot after an accident. Both the person you hit and your employer could be blaming you for the wreck. At the same time, you could have injuries that deserve compensation.
As mentioned above, fault in Georgia can be shared, and you might have a valid claim for relief. Contact MG Law today to schedule a free consultation.