Have you been in a truck accident at work and are wondering who will be responsible for paying for the damages? If you were injured or another party was harmed in a truck crash that occurred in the scope of employment, your employer may be liable for the damages and losses.
But here’s where it gets complicated. Depending on the circumstances of your particular case, you may be fully responsible for any damages caused by the truck accident at work.
Fact: Each year, U.S. employers pay out about $25 billion for motor vehicle accidents caused by or involving their employees.
Our Los Angeles truck accident lawyer from Compass Law Group, P.C., explains that liability for truck accidents at work is a complex matter, which usually requires a thorough investigation to determine who is responsible for the damages and losses.
When your employer is responsible for the truck accident at work
In the vast majority of cases, however, employees can hold their employers liable for any damages that occur in car accidents in the scope of an employee’s employment.
If you are driving a company truck, your relationship with your employer automatically falls under the umbrella of the legal theory of respondeat superior. Before you start Googling what “respondeat” means, let us explain. Under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, employers in California are liable for the actions of their employees in the scope of their employment.
Unless the employee engaged in any of the activities that make him or her responsible for paying for injuries and property damage caused by a truck accident at work (more about those activities later), the employee will not only get access to his or her employer’s insurance coverage to pay for his/her own injuries, but will also be protected from liability and will not have to personally pay for any damages and losses caused to third parties.
When you are personally liable for accidents that occur while driving a company truck
But when are you responsible for paying all of the damages if a truck accident occurs while driving a company truck? Our truck accident lawyer Los Angeles says that you will not be covered by your employer’s coverage if you engage in any of the following activities:
- Criminal activity. If you are committing a crime while driving a company truck, your employer’s insurance coverage will most likely not apply to pay for your damages and the damages of third parties. For example, operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs falls under the category of “criminal activity.”
- Running personal errands. If you used a company truck to run personal errands, you will not be covered by your employer’s insurance coverage, even if the truck accident occurs during your regular business hours. Some jurisdictions refer to this type of activity as a “frolic.”
- Independent contractor. If you are an independent contractor, using your personal car or truck on behalf of the company makes you responsible for any damages that occur in a truck accident at work. The same goes for situations when independent contractors lease a company car and end up causing a truck crash.
- Activity not related to business or outside of regular business hours. If you have full-day access to a company truck, you may use it to run personal errands every now and then. However, more likely than not, your employment contract makes it clear that you will not be protected from liability if you cause a truck accident while using the company truck to commute to and from work, or engage in non-business activity outside of regular business hours.
Whether or not you will be indemnified from third-party claims if you cause a truck accident in the scope of your employment depends on conditions and language of your contract as well as circumstances of your particular case.