Insurance adjusters, sales professionals, contractors and delivery drivers are just a few of the people who often use company-owned vehicles for work. Just like any other driver on the road, however, someone behind the wheel of a company car or truck can make mistakes and cause a crash.
If you’re injured in a collision with someone driving a company vehicle, who is liable?
The doctrine of respondeat superior largely makes their employer liable
The phrase “respondeat superior” is Latin for “let the master answer.” It’s a legal doctrine that essentially puts the burden for the victim’s financial losses on the person or entity most able to afford it.
In many cases, that means that you can use this idea to attach vicarious liability for the collision to the driver’s employer when you’re hit by a company car. That’s good news for victims with serious injuries because the insurance coverage a business carries is often much higher than the coverage carried by individual drivers.
There are some times, however, when an employer’s vicarious liability might not be so clear. For example, if a pizza shop hires a driver as an independent contractor, the fact that they slap a “delivery” sign on the top of their car before they head out may not make their employer liable for any accidents. There’s always the possibility that someone was using the company vehicle to run personal errands “off the clock.” That would likely make them — not their employer — responsible for any damages in a crash.
The problem for victims of such car accidents is that they can get stuck in the middle, with nobody’s insurance company willing to accept the blame and pay for their losses. If that happens, you may need experienced guidance to get through the red legal tape.