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I Was in a Car Accident While Driving an Employer’s Vehicle. Will My Employer Have to Pay for My Medical Bills?

If you have been involved in an accident when driving your employer’s car, then there is a possibility that your employer is liable for your injuries. To fully answer this question, you need to apply the relevant legal doctrine. The relationship between an employee and an employer is governed by the doctrine of respondeat superior. This doctrine provides that, the employer will be held legally responsible for the actions of an employee. This is provided that the employee was working within the scope of their job description and duties. In such an instance, the employer will be responsible for paying for the injuries of the worker and any damage to property. This doctrine is commonly applied in cases involving commercial truck drivers.
When determining who is liable, there is need to establish negligence.

Injury as a result of negligence by a third party

If you are driving an employer’s car and you suffer injuries as a result of the third party, the employer’s worker’s compensation and any other drivers’ insurance liability will pay for your medical bills. It is important to establish that workers compensation will only cater for the medical bills and a fraction of the lost wages. The third party insurance company will meet the full cost of lost earnings and any pain and suffering as a result of the accident.

In the event that the employee receives both worker’s compensation and compensation from the third party insurance, then the employer will have to return any excess amounts to the worker’s compensation fund.

Employer liability may also arise in the following circumstances

Employer Negligence

Employer negligence can arise under several circumstances. One of them is through negligent hiring or even negligent supervision. For instance, if a company hires a driver who is not skilled, then they are liable for their actions. At the bare minimum, the employer should hire a driver who has a commercial driver’s license. The license should not be suspended. The employer should also conduct a background check on the driver to check for any misdemeanours. Drug tests should also be done when hiring commercial drivers.

Lack of safety policies

Employers should introduce safety policies to their drivers and ensure that they all comply with these laws. Drivers ought to follow logging requirements as set by the state and federal laws. Employers should also make sure that drivers are not overworked. Driver fatigue is one of the major causes of truck accidents. Lack of proper and safe working conditions can result in negligence and consequent liability on the part of the employer.

Vicarious liability

Vicarious liability applies regardless of whether the employer acted negligently. This doctrine states that the actions of an agent are ideally similar to the actions of the principle who is directing this agent. Under this doctrine, the employer is the principle. This means that when the principle issues a directive, it will be as if he is the one acting. Vicarious liability applies when the agent (employee) is acting on behalf of the principle.
For instance, if the employee is on a duty on behalf of the employer, then gets into an accident, the employer will be held liable. However, if the employee takes a detour to handle their personal errands, then the employer will not be held responsible for their actions. The same applies to bad and intentional acts committed by the employee.

Determining liability

When a judge or jury is seeking to establish liability, they check on whether the employee was performing duties within the scope of their work. Driving the employer’s car does not automatically mean that the employer is liable. The employee should have been acting on a directive given the employer. If he deviated from the instructions and then got involved in an accident, the employer may not be held liable. The respondeat superior doctrine does not apply when the employee is on a lunch break or driving home from work.

If you are involved in an accident when driving your employer’s car, talk to NYC personal injury lawyer. The lawyer will evaluate your case and advise you on the best way forward. It is not automatic that the employer will be liable for the injuries sustained. Legal doctrines have to be applied so as to determine liability. This is why you need to consult with NYC personal injury lawyer.

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