Uncovering the facts of a car accident is always complicated. This complication gets even worse when the accident involves a company car.
In Oklahoma, an at-fault driver is responsible for covering the damages in a car accident. Normally, drivers rely on their insurance companies to do this. In a company car accident, questions emerge about liability. In this article, we will clarify some common questions about company car accidents.
THE DRIVER WAS USING THE CAR FOR WORK
If you were hit by a driver in a company car, that driver may not be the liable party, even if they caused the accident. If they were driving for work purposes, liability may fall on their employer. This is called “vicarious liability.”
Vicarious liability can be clear-cut, depending on the circumstances. If the driver was headed to their work-related destination, then they were on duty. This could be the business destination, or it could be returning to the office. In such scenarios, you may be able to hold their employer liable for your damages.
If the driver took a detour, however, liability gets more complicated. Let’s say that, on the way to their destination, the driver did a quick pull-over at a drive-thru for coffee. On their way out of the lot, they hit your car. At this point, the legal question arises: Could this stop disqualify vicarious liability?
Ultimately, the answer will depend on several factors. The employer may be lenient about such matters and allow themselves to be held liable. They could also be quite stingy, refusing to accept liability for any action beyond the driver’s going to and from their destination.
There may be contracts involved, specifically outlining what an employee can do with the car, with detours explicitly prohibited. On the other hand, the employer may have simply asked the driver to run a quick errand, and there are no contracts to reference.
Peeling back all these layers will require the help of a good attorney. They can investigate the specifics of your car accident, revealing whether they can hold an employer accountable.
THE DRIVER WAS NOT USING THE CAR FOR WORK
A driver could be driving a company car for personal use. Some upscale positions give company cars to employees for this purpose. In that case, even though the car doesn’t belong to the driver, they would still be liable if they were at fault in an accident.
There are also situations like those detailed above, where a detour invalidates employer liability. When that happens, the driver is held liable.
Finally, if the car was being used for illegal activity, the driver would definitely be held responsible for the accident, and they would likely face criminal charges.
THE CAR WAS POORLY MAINTAINED
People have a responsibility to keep their cars road-worthy. Poorly maintained vehicles can be a danger on the streets. If poor car upkeep results in an accident, the car’s owner can be held liable.
This fact gets convoluted when discussing company cars. In theory, the employer would be responsible for the car’s maintenance, and they should be held liable for the accident. In that scenario, it wouldn’t matter if the driver was on official business or not.
However, the car may have been given to the driver for personal use, and they are responsible for maintenance. Like many situations described above, this fact would make them responsible.
Car wrecks involving company cars often result in a blame game. The driver says the employer is responsible, and the employer pins liability on the driver. It takes the talents of a skilled attorney to unravel liability, holding the appropriate parties accountable.
If you’ve been in an accident involving a company car, contact our firm for a free consultation. We can review the facts, and we may be able to take on your case, helping decipher liability. Our number is 918-492-7674, and you can contact us online.