Getting into a car accident is always stressful. You experience shock, disbelief, denial, and anger. You worry about being physically hurt, about damage to your car, and having to miss work while you take care of the aftermath. But, what happens if you were driving a company car at the time of the collision? Who would be responsible? Would it be you? Would it be your employer? Those nagging questions are enough to make a difficult situation even more worrisome. What kind of trouble would you be in?
Company Car Accident Liability in Florida
The reality is that the answer — like many in the legal field — is that it depends. Car accident claims in Florida could be caused by either negligence or reckless behavior. In cases of negligence, the injured party has to prove that the person causing the injury had a duty of care, that the duty was breached, and that they suffered damages as a direct cause of that negligence.
Following that standard, anyone driving a motor vehicle has a duty of care towards other motorists in Florida’s roadways. If they fail to comply with that duty — whether by speeding, distracted driving, or by breaking any traffic laws — they will be responsible for damages they cause while driving. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving your personal vehicle, a rented car, or a company vehicle. If you caused the accident, yes, you will be held liable for negligence.
Now, how this works in the real world is the following way: Florida law also requires every car insurance company to provide Personal Injury Protection (PIP). This means that everyone’s policy will cover 80% of their medical bills and 60% of lost wages up to $10,000, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. So, let’s say you crash your company vehicle into Joe’s car. Joe sustains $15,000 in damages. His own car insurance will cover his PIP damages. However, Joe will still have outstanding bills — $5,000, plus the 20% in medical bills and 40% in lost wages not covered by PIP. So, what is Joe to do? If he has MedPay coverage, that would take care of the 20% and 40%. If he does not, he’s back to square one. His next option is to sue you — as well as your employer — to get all his bases covered.
When would my employer be liable if I crash the company car in Florida?
Your employer would be found liable for the accident in three scenarios. These include:
- If you got into the accident while driving within the scope of your employment.
- If your employer knew or had reason to know that there was a mechanical issue with your vehicle and failed to fix it.
- If your employer knew or had reason to know that you were prone to acting recklessly (e.g. if you have a history of driving under the influence, are regularly pulled over for speeding, or don’t have a license to drive a commercial vehicle).
So if you were making a delivery, driving back from making a delivery, driving to or from a meeting, or doing anything that directly related to your employment, then yes, your employer would be held vicariously and jointly liable with you for the accident. On the other hand, if you took your employer’s company car for a spin without their permission, or decided to go buy flowers for your significant other after your shift was over, the responsibility for the accident may be found as exclusively yours.
Call us at Clark Law for a consultation
There are many factors that affect the outcome of a case. If you got into a car accident while driving a company car, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. We’ll consider all circumstances to determine your best next step. We can also ensure that you receive proper compensation for any present as well as future medical expenses relating to your injuries.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.