Road mishaps can happen anytime and anywhere, whether you are running personal errands or are on a business trip.
Generally, the driver at fault is considered liable for damages in an accident, but that’s the case when you are out for personal work.
Things can get tricky if the collision occurs while you are driving for work or using a company vehicle.
The biggest question in such cases relates to liability- whether the employer has full, partial or no liability for the accident.
And you would also want to know if the injuries can be regarded as work injuries.
The answers to these key questions go a long way in deciding the fate of the employee who has been injured or has ended up injuring someone else during the accident.
Let us explain the concept of liability in collisions during business trips in detail.
When Is The Employer Liable?
The following are the basic considerations when it comes to determining the liability of the employer for an accident that happens on a business trip.
- Employer negligence
In such cases, the negligence of the employer is clearly the cause of the mishap.
It could range from negligent hiring to negligent supervision, more specifically in case of commercial vehicle drivers.
When a business onboards a person for driving a company vehicle, it is the employer’s duty to exercise due diligence for ensuring that the employee is a safe driver.
They need to go the extra mile, with measures like verification of the commercial driver’s license being in good standing and ensuring that it has not been suspended before.
- Negligent supervision
The business has to implement reasonable safety policies for making sure that all the drivers on board comply with safety laws.
These laws include the ones for regulating truckers’ hours, vehicle inspections, and more.
If the employer fails to check that the employees are taking reasonable care, the former will be liable for negligent supervision.
- Vicarious liability
The doctrine of vicarious liability states that the liability for the employee’s actions rests with the employer if these actions were within the scope of employment, performed while working or doing a task they were hired to do and/or the employer earns some benefit from the activity being done by the employee while the accident took place.
This case applies to people who are just running errands for business or are on a business trip.
When Is The Employee Liable?
Although the rule of vicarious liability is clearly applicable in some cases, there are certain exceptions as well.
As an employee, you may be considered liable for an accident if it happened while you were doing personal work, even if it took place while driving a company vehicle or during work hours.
Also, the liability will be of the employee if they were committing a crime when the accident occurred.
Further, employers are not considered liable for mishaps during employees’ commute to work, even if it is in a company vehicle.
However, an accident while commuting for a business trip is an exception.
Injuries during a business trip and workers’ compensation
The liability for an accident for a business trip decides the person who would be responsible for paying for damages to the injured party.
However, you would want to know the implications of your own injuries as well.
Typically, if you get injured in a car accident during a business trip, your employer will have to pay for the costs of these injuries, regardless of the fault for the accident.
These damages are covered under workers’ compensation and may include expenses such as the medical bills for injuries and lost wages due to absence from the workplace during recovery.
As a rule, only the injuries that are work-related come under the coverage of workers’ compensation.
So you will have to validate that you were doing a work-related task when the accident happened.
Involvement of a third-party driver
In yet another situation, a third-party may be involved in the accident.
If you are due to the negligence of a third-party driver while on a business trip, there are two potential avenues for pursuing compensation.
While you may claim workers’ compensation benefits for a mishap that happened on a work trip, you may also file a personal injury lawsuit for compensation from the negligent driver.
Workers’ compensation generally covers bills and lost wages but not the cost of pain and suffering related damages.
The latter can be recovered by bringing up a lawsuit against the negligent driver. By pursuing both, you can actually maximize the value of compensation.
When it comes to car accidents during business trips, awareness is the key for employees looking for protection against the law as well as a fair settlement for their own injuries.
It is best to seek guidance from an experienced lawyer to ensure that you get both.