Many employees are required to drive as part of their job duties. And, most of the time, this is done safely and without issue. But, on occasion, a person who drives for a living can be involved in a motor vehicle accident. If this happens, there are some very important parameters and issues that the employed driver must be aware of with regard to who will be responsible for the damages that result from the accident.
First, it is important that if you are driving for your work, that you fully understand both the responsibilities of your employer and yourself with regard to use of the vehicle and the insurance of the same.
An employer is responsible for the following with regard to the vehicle you are driving on their behalf;
Clear policies regarding the use of the car; These policies must be delineated in writing and explained to the employee prior to driving for the employer.
- Are you only allowed to drive the vehicle during work hours?
- Are you allowed to use the vehicle for your personal needs during or after work hours?
- Are the policies with regard to the usage of the vehicle in writing and available for the employee’s review?
Status of the vehicle’s insurance; It is important to note that all employer’s vehicles should carry a comprehensive policy for the vehicle being used for work purposes.
- Have you been provided with a copy of the insurance policy that covers the vehicle?
- Is the insurance comprehensive?
- Are you insured during the entirety of the work day including using the vehicle to get your lunch or another meal while you are working?
- Does the policy include roadside assistance in the event the vehicle breaks down during work hours? Does this coverage extend to use during non-working hours?
Registration; With the local motor vehicle department.
- To whom is the car legally registered? The business or the individual employer?
- Is the registration up to date?
- Are the registration papers readily available to the employee driver in case of being pulled over by law enforcement or involved in an accident?
- Is the car properly identified on its body with up to date registration stickers etc.?
Maintenance; Done regularly to keep the vehicle in proper working order.
- Is the car regularly inspected for road worthiness and, if so, is there documentation of the same?
- How often is the car regularly maintained for basic car care?
As an employee you are responsible for the following:
Valid Driver’s License – You must present the employer with a valid driver’s license for your employee file.
Usage – Once you are made aware of the parameters that you are allowed to use the vehicle for, you must abide by them. Any use of the vehicle outside the identified hours of use can result in the driver being responsible for damages caused by an accident.
Responsible Driving – You must be free of any substances that could impair your ability to drive during work hours or otherwise. This includes being free from alcohol use, or the use of prescription or over the counter medications, that could impair your driving judgment. You must follow all the rules of the road. In the event that the vehicle appears to be working improperly, you are responsible for reporting any such concerns to your employer as soon as possible.
When the employer has met their responsibilities and the employee fully understands the parameters of their usage of the vehicle, then in the event that there is a motor vehicle accident, it is most likely the employer will be responsible for any damages or injuries caused by means of their vicarious liability.
Vicarious liability means that as long as the vehicle is being used for its intended purpose, by both the employer and the employee, then the employer/owner of the vehicle will be responsible for the damages caused by the motor vehicle accident. In these instances, the employer will be responsible for filing a claim with the insurance company and following through on completing all of the processes required for the claim to be resolved. The employee will be expected to fully cooperate by providing the employer and the insurer the pertinent details of the accident.
Eradication of Vicarious Liability
It is important to remember that if the employee breaks the contractual terms and/or policies of usage of the vehicle, the employer’s vicarious liability may not cover the employee or the damages caused by the accident. Some examples of breaking the employer’s vicarious liability include;
- Using the vehicle outside of the agreed upon terms and/or policies
- Being under the influence of a mind-altering substance
- Driving in a manner that is unsafe, against the rules of the road or reckless
Lastly, if you are injured while driving for work and require medical attention or you are unable to return to work immediately, you may file a claim for workers’ compensation. This claim belongs particularly to the injured worker and as such, it is recommended the injured worker seek legal assistance from a solicitor who specializes in the area of workers’ compensation law claims.
In the event that you find yourself in need of assistance, please contact the law offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780.