Auto Accident Settlement
What Do I Do if I Caused a Car Accident in a Work/Company Vehicle?
Having access to a company vehicle when your job requires travel can be a big perk. However, if you are involved in an accident with the company vehicle, you may feel unsure about what to do, especially if you feel that you are at fault. If you’ve been involved in an accident in a company vehicle, here are some steps that you should take:
Get the Accident Reported
Whenever you are involved in an auto accident, it is important to call the police immediately and have them write up an accident report. Even if you feel that the accident is not a big deal, your employer will likely require you to receive an official accident report from the police, and the insurance companies will most likely also need this information. If the accident is a minor fender-bender, you may be asked to go to the police station to obtain the accident report. However, if the accident is more serious and the police are going to come to you, it is important that you stay at the scene of the accident. While you should move your car to a safe spot if you’re able, leaving the accident scene will likely result in a criminal charge.
When the police arrive, stick to the facts about what happened in the accident. While you don’t want to lie, you also don’t want to speculate or guess about what may have caused the accident to happen.
While you are waiting for the police to arrive, you may want to exchange information with the other drivers involved. If everyone is calm and able, you will want to get their vehicle, contact, and insurance information. However, it is imperative that you don’t admit fault or even apologize for the accident, as that could possibly be seen as an admission of fault.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you don’t feel injured, it is important to seek medical attention within 24 hours. Often, injuries from a car accident may not be immediately apparent. If you need to receive Florida worker’s compensation to address the injuries sustained in the accident, the insurance company will need an official copy of a medical report from a doctor. Without this documentation, it may be more difficult to obtain the compensation you need to care for your injuries.
Report the Accident to Your Employer
You will also want to report the accident to your employer as soon as you are able. Again, you should stick to just the facts and avoid adding any guesses or speculation about what may have happened to cause the accident. In Florida, you have up to 30 days to report an accident after it has occurred.
Your employer should have an insurance policy available covering any property damage or bodily injuries you cause if you happen to be at fault for the accident. They will also likely have workers’ compensation and other forms of coverage available to cover the costs of your own injuries.
Who Pays for Damages?
The person (or, more commonly, insurer) that pays for your damages depends on who was at fault and other circumstances of the accident.
One major factor to consider is if you were performing job duties at the time of the accident. This can include situations where you are on an extended work trip, even if you weren’t fulfilling specific work duties at the time of the wreck. Unfortunately, normal travel to and from work is not considered within the scope of employment, but nearly all other work-requested travel applies.
In the event of an accident while performing job duties, you can file a workers’ compensation claim for your injuries.
If your accident happened while not technically on the job, then you still have options:
- Your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy pays for 80% of medical expenses in an emergency
- Your employer should have a policy for injuries that happen during the operation of a company car in situations where workers’ compensation might not apply. These policies reduce the risks of liability for the employer.
- If another driver or party was at fault and you have a qualifying “serious injury” under Florida law or your injury costs exceed your PIP, you may be able to file a claim against any negligent parties
How Liability is Determined
In Florida, there is a no-fault insurance system, which means that unless there’s been a serious injury, the car accident victim’s insurance company will cover medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Since this is the case, an injured driver cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver unless that person has sustained a serious injury or they exceed their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. If the victim has sustained a permanent injury, significant or permanent scarring, or permanent disfigurement, then they may bring a case against the at-fault driver.
Potential Liable Parties in Car Accident Cases with Company Vehicles
In Florida, companies can potentially be held liable for injuries sustained in a serious car accident. If you have sustained serious injuries in a Florida car accident when a company vehicle is involved, you can bring a claim against the following parties:
1. An At-Fault Driver
According to the Florida Traffic Code, drivers are expected to operate their vehicles in a reasonable, careful, and prudent manner while on the road. This is especially true when on the job or operating a company vehicle. If the driver is operating their car in a distracted or unsafe manner, which resulted in an accident and subsequent injury, the driver may be deemed liable for all related injuries and damages.
2. The Vehicle Driver’s Employer
Florida has strict vicarious liability laws, which means if a person loans a motor vehicle to someone else, they are held responsible for the fact that they chose to let someone else drive their vehicle. Under the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine, companies can sometimes be found liable just because they own the vehicle. If the employee they entrusted the vehicle to is a known risk, employers can also be found liable according to the theory of “negligent entrustment.”
3. A Defective Vehicle Manufacturer
When an accident is caused by a vehicle or part malfunction, the injury victim can pursue a defective products claim against a manufacturer.
If You Have Been Involved in a Car Accident in a Work Vehicle, Contact an Experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney
If you were involved in an accident in your work vehicle, it is likely that your employer and their insurance company will work together to handle everything — unless they seek to prove that you were doing something illegal, such as driving under the influence. If you are unsure about your rights or how to handle this situation, consulting with an experienced Florida car accident attorney may be in your best interest. At Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, we have over 35 years of experience with car accident cases. Call (866) 460-1990 to schedule your consultation today.
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