Who Is Responsible for Damages in an Accident Involving a Work Vehicle in the DMV?

If you were injured in an auto accident that wasn’t your fault, the other driver would typically bear the financial responsibility for your injuries, property damage, and related losses.

However, if the accident involved a company vehicle, the driver’s employer may also be liable — which means you may be able to make a claim against the employer’s much more extensive insurance. Read on to learn when employers may be responsible for damages in an accident involving a work vehicle.

When Is an Employer Liable for an Employee’s Actions in an Auto Accident?

If the other driver was acting within the scope of employment at the time of the crash, their employer could be responsible for your damages.

Employer Negligence

Sometimes, the employer’s negligence may cause or contribute to an accident.

Negligent hiring is a classic example. Employers have a duty to ensure employees are qualified and trained for the job and won’t create unsafe conditions. When a job involves driving a company vehicle, the employer may be liable for auto accidents if they:

  • Knowingly hired a worker with a checkered driving record
  • Failed to check the worker’s driving record
  • Failed to ensure the worker has the right driving license and that it is valid

Negligent supervision is another way in which employers may become responsible for employee-caused accidents. Employers must create and enforce safety protocols and ensure that employees follow all federal, state, and local safety regulations and traffic rules. This may include performing intermittent drug and alcohol screening.

Vicarious Liability

Under the doctrine of vicarious liability, an employer need not have been negligent to be liable for damages in an accident involving a work vehicle. As long as the worker was acting in the course of their employment, their actions may still be the employer’s responsibility. Conversely, if the worker was running personal errands, albeit in a company vehicle, their employer likely won’t be responsible.

The Going and Coming Rule

Under the so-called going and coming rule, employers aren’t liable for auto accidents caused by employees if they happen during non-working hours. This rule usually applies even when the employee was driving a company car and was commuting to or from work at the time of the crash.

Why Determining Liability in Auto Accidents Is Important

If only the other driver is liable, your compensation will be limited to the policy limit of their auto insurance.

But, if the employer is also liable, you may be able to tap into their commercial liability coverage, which can sometimes run into millions of dollars. In such cases, you would typically bring a claim against both the driver and their employer as co-defendants. Their respective insurance companies will then work out how to handle your payout.

Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney in Maryland & Washington, D.C.

Determining liability for damages in an accident involving a work vehicle can be challenging. At Johnnie Bond Law, we can analyze your case and help you identify all potentially liable parties. Call (202) 683-6803 to schedule a free consultation with a Washington, D.C., and Maryland auto accident attorney.