Auto accidents that involve commercial vehicles are typically far more complicated than those that involve personal cars. First there is the question of who is responsible for the crash and any injuries and other losses that are sustained. This could be one of several different parties, including the driver of the company vehicle, their employer, the driver of other vehicles involved, or a third party.
Another issue that would need to be resolved is how an injured company driver gets reimbursed for their losses. Workers’ compensation coverage is available in many cases, but this only provides limited benefits for direct economic costs and does not cover any of the intangible losses such as pain-and-suffering and emotional distress. In some instances, the driver of the company vehicle might be able to recover compensation for these losses if another party is at fault for the accident.
Whether you were the company driver or another driver or passenger who was involved in a crash with a company vehicle, this is not the type of case that can be easily handled on your own. If you suffered injuries from the accident, it is very important to have the case examined by an experienced attorney, so you understand your rights and legal options. In Alabama, contact M. Adam Jones and Associates at 334-699-5599 for the strong legal guidance you need.
Determining Liability for a Crash with a Company Vehicle
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of parties that could potentially be at fault in an accident that involves a company vehicle:
The Driver’s Employer
Whether it was the driver of the company vehicle or their employer who was to blame, the employer’s liability insurance would usually kick in and pay for the damages. Even if the employer did not cause the crash, it is ultimately their responsibility to ensure that the vehicles they own are operated safely.
The Company Vehicle Driver
When the company vehicle driver is at fault for a crash, the employer’s insurance will usually take responsibility. But there are some exceptions to this general rule. Situations in which the company’s insurance would not cover an employee who causes a commercial vehicle accident include:
- Criminal Activity: Many commercial insurers will refuse to indemnify an employee who causes a company vehicle crash while in the midst of committing a crime. The most common example of this would be an employee who is driving a commercial vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Going on a Frolic: If an employee decides to run personal errands or otherwise take an extended break while on company time, they might be held personally liable if they are at fault for a crash.
- Non-Business Activity: Crashes involving company vehicles that happen outside of business hours are often not covered by the driver’s insurer. Examples include commuting to and from work or using the vehicle for personal or recreational activity during their time away from work.
The Driver of Another Vehicle
If the driver of a vehicle other than the company car is at fault for the crash in the company vehicle driver is injured, then they can file a claim with the responsible driver’s insurer. As we talked about previously, this would allow an injured company employee to recover compensation for losses over and above what would be available through their employer’s workers’ comp policy.
There are a number of parties who are not directly involved in a company vehicle crash that could hold some responsibility, including:
- A cargo or shipping company that overloads or unevenly loads a commercial vehicle which leads to a crash. This is most common with large tractor-trailers.
- The party who is responsible for maintaining a company vehicle when the crash results from mechanical failure.
- The designer, manufacturer, or distributor of a faulty vehicle or vehicle part that causes the accident.
- The party in charge of maintaining the roadways when problems with the roads (such as potholes or cracks in the surface, hidden or damaged road signs, or missing guardrails) cause the vehicle to crash.
A thorough investigation is necessary in order to gather all of the critical facts and pieces of evidence and identify the underlying cause of the crash and all contributing factors. This is why you want an attorney in your corner who understands the complexities and nuances involved with these types of cases and has the proven ability to ensure that all responsible parties are held fully accountable.
Get in Touch with M. Adam Jones and Associates Today
Crashes involving company vehicles are very complicated cases, and the sooner you get our firm involved, the better your chances of recovering the full and fair compensation you deserve. Call our office today or message us online to schedule your free consultation and case assessment. We look forward to serving you!