Corporate Vehicle Liability
When you are involved in a vehicle accident with a corporate truck, car or other commercial vehicle, receiving just compensation for damages and injuries can be complex and time-consuming. Due to special considerations including insurance issues and legal concepts of fault, pursuing a claim arising from corporate owned vehicles is not as simple as a basic car accident claim. The intricacies involved in these cases requires proper strategy and execution. Above all, a critical thing is for you to speak to an experienced accident attorney who can guide you through the process from start to finish.
If an employee is driving a business vehicle in the course of his or her job duties and causes a collision, the employer may be liable. An employer can be liable either due to their own negligence by hiring or supervising an unsafe employee, or through a concept known as vicarious liability.
The employer may be negligent if they hired the employee and knew or should have known that the employee was not a safe driver. If an employee will be driving a company vehicle, the employer should ensure that the employee has a commercial drivers license and a clean driving record. Some employers require drug testing of their employees. An employer may also be responsible if they failed to properly supervise the employee. For example, neglecting to ensure drivers are following proper safety protocols and laws relating to transportation may be a basis of liability. If the employer fails to use due care in hiring and supervising employees, they can be deemed negligent and therefore liable.
An employer does not have to be independently negligent in order for vicarious liability to apply. The principle of vicarious liability is based on the concept that employees are acting on the employer’s behalf while completing duties in their line of work. If an employee is using a corporate vehicle while “in the course of employment”, the company is liable.
If you are an employee that was injured while you were driving a corporate vehicle, you have options. You likely have a workers compensation claim. The first question is whether you were working at the time of the accident. That may seem like a straightforward question, but there is often a large gray area of what constitutes work duties. For instance, if you were not driving on company time but running by the bank for your employer during a lunch break, that can constitute working even if you are off the clock. This area of the law can get very fact-dependent and that is why it is a good idea to speak to an attorney who will be able to offer deeper insight, specific to the facts in your case.
If you are an employee who was injured in a corporate owned vehicle, here are a few steps you should do to ensure you are properly compensated for your damages:
- Write down all the facts you remember about the accident.
- Gather contact information for the other people involved.
- Report the accident to your employer or supervisor.
- Get thoroughly checked by a medical professional.
- Find a reputable personal injury attorney in your area.
- Save any forms or letters you receive from your employer.
- Do not sign anything without having your attorney approve it.
- Always act professionally in your interactions with your employer and insurance companies.
If you were injured by a corporate owned vehicle, you have rights to compensation for your injuries. The first step is to get medical attention. As for pursuing the claim, the next step would be to determine who was involved and who may be responsible. Determining fault can be a complex, fact-intensive, law driven process that determines who pays for damages.
Illinois is a “modified comparative fault” state, which means that each party who is liable in the car accident could be held is assigned a percentage of accountability. For example, if you were in an accident and hit by a corporate owned vehicle, but were determined to be 20 percent at fault, your overall compensatory damages would be reduced by 20 percent.
If a corporate owned vehicle caused you physical, emotional, and financial injury, there are some steps you need to take to recover your damages:
- Gather contact information of everyone involved including witnesses.
- Photograph vehicles, the scene and your injuries.
- Write down all the facts you remember about what occurred.
- Seek medical attention, even if you feel injuries are minor.
- Gather all applicable documents you have relating to the accident.
- Schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney.
- Do not sign anything or agree to any settlement without seeking legal advice.
Do Not Wait
In Illinois there are time limits called statutes of limitations that limit the time in which you can bring a suit against those responsible for your injuries. For personal injury, you must bring your lawsuit within two years after the accident occurred. Waiting till the last minute to file your lawsuit puts you at a disadvantage for receiving maximum compensation. After you are involved in an accident, get in touch with an attorney or call us at (312) 766-1000 as soon as possible. They can help you with the stressful process of filing your legal claim and get your life back on track.