Who is Liable for Damages in a Company Vehicle Crash?

Who Is Liable for Damages in a Company Vehicle Crash?

Company vehicles, whether a car, van, or truck, are given to employees to perform specific job-related duties. For instance, companies that rely on the transportation of goods, services, equipment, or passengers likely have several company vehicles on the roads. Some employees can only access these vehicles at their workplace, while others can keep their vehicles at home and drive them for personal use. 

Company vehicles, just as any vehicle, aren’t invincible. Drivers still need to use caution and follow the law while operating their vehicles. At the same time, employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees are equipped with regularly maintained vehicles, thorough training, and clear guidelines for usage. So, if you’re involved in a company vehicle crash, who’s liable? The answer to this depends on who’s at fault. 

When an Employer Is Liable vs. When an Employee Is Liable 

Liability in a company vehicle car accident doesn’t just come down to the parties involved in the actual crash. When an employee is driving a company vehicle, liability may extend to the employer for several reasons. Let’s look at when an employer might be responsible versus when an employee is. 

Employer Liability 

Under Colorado’s vicarious liability law, employers may be liable for their employee’s actions if the employee’s actions were performed within the scope of their employment (i.e., while on-duty, when completing a work-related task, or when fulfilling a task assigned by an employer). In short, if you’re at fault for an accident in your company vehicle and you injured someone, then your employer may be held responsible. If this is the case, your company’s insurance will have to pay for the injured third party’s losses. 

Employee Liability 

Employers aren’t always liable if you caused an accident. For instance, an employer may not be vicariously liable if: 

  • You were using the vehicle for non-work-related purposes
  • You were breaking the law

In the event that you’re held liable for the accident, your personal auto insurance would bear the burden of paying out any damages. The injured third party would have to file an insurance claim with your insurance provider to seek compensation for any medical bills or lost wages. 

Does Workers’ Compensation Cover My Injuries? 

In most cases, workers’ compensation covers your work-related injuries because Colorado operates on a “no-fault” workers’ compensation system. Therefore, even if you’re fully or partially at fault, you can be awarded compensation benefits. However, if it’s found that you were operating your company vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then you may be barred from receiving a monetary award. 

Workers’ compensation activates the moment your work-related activities begin. Typically, it doesn’t apply when you are driving to or from work. However, if your job duty requires you to drive from your personal residence to specifically designated sites and locations for long periods, then worker’s comp will generally apply. This is known as when an employee is in “travel status” and even covers when employees attend to personal needs like eating, resting, or using the restroom. 

What If a Negligent Third Party Caused My Injuries? 

If a negligent third party caused your injuries, they would be financially responsible for your injuries through their own insurance or personal finances. Your company may be able to file a claim with the driver’s insurance to seek reparations for property damages. In terms of your injuries, you may be able to file both a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party liability claim with the at-fault party’s insurance to seek damages that exceed workers’ compensation limits. 

Talk to Mintz Law Firm about Your Company Vehicle Crash Today 

Colorado car accidents that involve company vehicles can be incredibly complex from both legal and insurance-related perspectives. At Mintz Law Firm, our attorneys specialize in helping accident victims and those injured on the job recover maximum compensation for their losses, whether through an insurance claim, workers compensation, or a personal injury lawsuit. We’re guided by our unwavering commitment to do what’s best for our clients in Colorado. 

At Mintz Law Firm, we are passionate and results-oriented; we also remain sensible, professional, and respectful when our clients entrust us with their cases. With over 150 years of combined experience, we’ve stayed true to our core values—focused representation, attention, and results. No matter how intricate your circumstances are, we’re in it for the long haul. Call (303) 462-2999 or complete our contact form for a free, zero-obligation consultation today. 

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