Driving a company car has a lot of perks. You don’t have to worry
about wear and tear on your own vehicle, you don’t have to pay for
gas out of pocket, and you don’t have to cover the cost of monthly
car insurance. But what happens if you have an
accident in a company vehicle? Are you responsible for damage to the vehicle? Will your employer pay
your medical bills and lost wages if you are injured?
While every case is different, after most company vehicle accidents in
Louisiana, the employer is the one who is responsible for handling the
However, you could be liable for the accident if any of the following are true:
- You were not acting within the scope of your employment at the time of
- You violated your company’s policies and/or the law, leading to the accident
- You are classified as an independent contractor, not an employee
Because the aftermath of a company vehicle accident can be confusing, we’ve
broken down these points below. If you would like to discuss your case
with an experienced
personal injury lawyer in New Orleans,
contact Womac Law Firm directly and request a free, private consultation.
Acting within the Scope of Your Employment
In most cases, employers who provide company cars purchase commercial automobile
insurance. Typically, this insurance covers any accidents that occur while
an employee is acting “within the scope of their employment.”
But what exactly does this mean?
Acting within the scope of your employment means carrying out
any activity that benefits your employer. For example, if you are running errands
for your boss or are going to another store to pick up supplies, you would
be acting within the scope of your employment.
In contrast, if you use a company car to run personal errands, travel out
of town, or do anything else that is
not for your employer’s benefit, you are not within the scope of your
employment. This means you would likely not be covered by your employer’s
insurance if you get into an accident. This is true even if the accident
happens during work hours.
Violating Company Policies/the Law
Under what are known as
respondeat superior laws, or “vicarious liability,” employers are generally liable
for the actions of their employees. This means that if you are acting
within the scope of your employment and you get into an accident, regardless
of whether you or the other person was at fault, your employer is typically
liable for the resulting damages. This includes damages to the vehicle,
as well as personal injury damages suffered by you or anyone else involved
in the accident.
However, there is an important caveat to the rule of
respondeat superior. If an employee violates company policies, an employer may deny liability.
Often, company policies require employees to follow the law and refrain
from being negligent when operating a company vehicle. This means that
employees who violate such policies—whether by texting while driving,
speeding, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs—may
be personally liable for accidents they cause.
Independent Contractor vs. Employee
Your employee status may also affect liability after an accident in a company
car. If you are classified as an independent contractor rather than an
employee, you may be personally liable if you cause an accident that leaves
another person injured. You could also be liable for damage to the other
person’s vehicle, as well as the company vehicle.
If you are classified as an independent contractor, be sure to ask about
the company’s commercial vehicle coverage (if any). Know the company’s
policies and who is liable for an accident in the company vehicle ahead
of time so that you can be prepared.
Your employee status could also affect your ability to file a
workers’ compensation claim. In Louisiana, nearly all employers are required to carry workers’
compensation insurance. This covers employees’ medical expenses,
lost wages, and other damages resulting from on-the-job or work-related
accidents—including accidents that happen in a company vehicle.
If you were injured while driving a company car, and you were acting on
behalf of your employer at the time, you may be entitled to file a workers’
However, businesses in Louisiana do
not need to provide workers’ compensation for independent contractors
(in most cases). This means that if you are not classified as an employee,
you may not be covered.
Do I Need an Attorney After a Company Vehicle Accident?
While you are not required by law to hire an attorney after a company vehicle
accident, it is a good idea to talk to a legal professional who can help
you understand your options. Depending on the circumstances of your accident,
you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. You may not need to
deal with the insurance company after the accident or pay for any damages
to the vehicle. However, in some circumstances, you
could be liable for damages.
We strongly recommend that you talk to a lawyer about your company vehicle
accident. At Womac Law Firm in New Orleans, we represent injured individuals
and workers who have been involved in all types of
car and motor vehicle accidents. Our attorneys understand the complexity of these types of cases and can
help you navigate the legal process.
Get in touch with us today to speak to one of our New Orleans company vehicle
accident attorneys for free.
Fill out and submit a free online case evaluation form
today to get started or call us at 504-486-9999.