What if I Am Injured by Someone Driving a Company Car?
We all see employees driving company cars out on both the surface roads and highways and freeways throughout Florida. Whether it is a city or county employee driving a city or county truck, a pest control company employee driving a pest control vehicle with a bug on the roof, or a plumber or HVAC technician driving a van with his or her employer’s name and phone number emblazoned across the side, many people drive company cars and other company vehicles. Many times, these individuals are out on the roads at times other than just during work hours. Given how prevalent accidents are on the roads of the Sunshine State, it would only be natural that people get in accidents when driving a company car. Indeed, many times it may be the negligence of someone driving a company car that causes another motorist to suffer injuries. This is a much more common scenario than most people realize and creates its own set of unique legal issues in the event that the accident is the employee’s fault. In such an instance, not only can the negligent driver him or herself be on the hook for whatever personal injuries and/or damage that he or she may have caused to another motorist, but the employee’s employer can also potentially be on the hook as well.
Why Is Driving a Company Car Different Than Driving Your Own Private Vehicle?
Driving a company car is different than when someone is driving his or her own private vehicle because a company car is most often provided by the driver’s employer specifically for that employee’s use. Therefore, the employer most often owns or leases that vehicle for the express purpose of use in the employer’s business. Although sometimes executives or other higher level managers may be driving company cars that are provided to them due to their status at the company as a part of the individual’s compensation package, most often company cars are provided in order to help an employee do his or her job. By definition, if someone has a company car to do his or her job, then he or she is driving that car on company business. Therefore, the county building inspector drives a county vehicle to get to and from inspections while a plumber drives a company van to get to and from plumbing jobs of company customers. This is important because if the employee gets into an accident on such an occasion, he or she is acting on behalf of his or her employer when that employee’s negligence causes injuries and/or damages to someone else.
Can The Employer Be On the Hook if An Employee Hits Someone or Causes an Accident in a Company Car?
If someone hits you while utilizing a company car, that person and his or her employee can be sued if you are injured. By virtue of driving the company car, and in particular if the incident occurs during business hours, the person is deemed to be acting within the course and scope of his or her employment, meaning his or her employer can be held liable for his or her actions. However, even if the accident happens on a weekend when the employee is driving the company car back from a sporting event and hits you, then he or she likely is still covered by his or her employer’s insurance, which is often more substantial than that person’s individual insurance policy. Therefore, regardless of when it occurs, if someone hits you in a company car, that person and that person’s employer can potentially be on the hook if his or her negligence causes you injuries or damages.
In addition, under something known as Florida’s “dangerous instrumentality” law, the company could even be liable for entrusting the vehicle to someone it knew was not a safe driver. If the employee had any history of previous car accidents and the company either failed to perform the appropriate investigation prior to providing him or her with a company car or else allowed him or her to continue driving a company car even after a history of accidents, then a party injured by that driver’s negligence could potentially also seek compensation against the company under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. This would be saying in essence that the company entrusted a potentially hazardous object, a vehicle, to someone it knew would not operate that potentially hazardous object safely.
Contact Schwed, Adams & McGinley
At Schwed Adams & McGinley, P.A., our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal experience. We have represented many clients who have been injured by someone driving a company car. In such scenarios, we have seen the tricks companies play when their employees cause an accident while driving a company car. The employer may try to avoid liability for its employee’s negligence, but we know the law and we will fight tooth and nail for our clients to recover from the employer, who is often better insured and has more resources than the individual employee that caused the accident. Therefore, if you have been inured by someone driving a company car, contact our experienced attorneys at firstname.lastname@example.org or (877) 694-6079 for a free consultation today if you have been injured or a loved one has been killed or injured in a motor vehicle accident in Florida.