Many companies use cars, trucks, and vans to transport people and goods. These vehicles travel thousands of miles each year. Research shows that these company cars get into an average of 4.5 accidents annually. About one-third of these accidents caused thta people get hit by a company car.
In a typical two-car car accident, each car is owned by a private person. Dealing with one person (and their insurance company) is difficult enough, but things can get even more complicated when a company owns the car that hit you. This article will answer questions about company vehicles and help you know what to do after being hit by a company car.
What Is a Company Car?
A company car is a vehicle that a corporation or other business entity uses in the course of its business. Many types of vehicles can be company cars. Some examples of company vehicles might include:
- Delivery vans and trucks (e.g., FedEx, UPS, etc.),
- Utility trucks (e.g., Alabama Power, Spectrum, etc.),
- Construction vehicles,
- Multi-passenger vehicles (e.g., party buses, etc.),
- Tow trucks, or
Company cars are usually easy to spot because they often have the company logo somewhere on a door or panel. But it’s not always this simple. In Alabama, if a company tells its employees to use their cars for official business, the car is probably a company vehicle.
While semi-trucks are the ultimate example of company vehicles, trucking accidents aren’t discussed here. The complex issues involving truck accidents are discussed in a series of articles on this blog.
If I’ve Been Hit by a Company Car, Who’s Responsible for My Injuries?
The easy answer is that the other driver’s employer is responsible. Generally, the law says that we aren’t accountable for the actions of others. However, when someone can tell another person what to do, Alabama law says they are legally responsible for their actions. Lawyers call this rule “vicarious liability.” Because employers can tell their employees what to do, they are usually legally responsible for what those employees do.
However, this “easy” answer is not as easy as it first appears. There are some situations where the employer’s liability is harder to establish. Here are some factors that courts consider.
- The status of the person who hit you. Vicarious liability was designed for the employer/employee relationship. While this might seem insignificant, today, many companies hire independent contractors. The law views employees and independent contractors very differently. It’s not impossible to hold a company responsible for the actions of its independent contractors, but it is more complicated. An experienced Alabama injury attorney can help you determine the status of the person who hit you.
- What the employee was doing when they hit you. Vicarious liability applies when an employee is “on the clock” and doing things that are part of their normal job description. If a delivery driver causes an accident while making a delivery during their scheduled shift, the employee is likely engaged in on-the-job activity. As such, their employer may be held responsible for the crash. But if the driver was taking an extended lunch break, driving home, or doing a non-work errand, it’s more difficult to hold their employer responsible. Again, a qualified Birmingham accident attorney can help you figure out if the employee was acting within the scope of their job duties.
- Criminal activity. The vicarious liability rule makes employers responsible for the foreseeable actions of their employees. However, most employers do not expect their employees to break the law while on duty. So, it is difficult to hold employers responsible for accidents caused by drunk driving or other types of illegal employee misconduct. While it is far more difficult to hold employers responsible under the circumstances, it may not be impossible. Speaking to an Alabama accident lawyer is your best bet.
What Should I Do After an Accident with a Company Car?
The steps you should take after being hit by a company car are the same as those after any other accident. You should call the police, take pictures at the scene, and get contact information for any witnesses. After beign hit by a company car with a fleet vehicle, in addition to getting the other driver’s name and contact information, try to get as much information as possible about the company. If you can, take pictures that show a visible company logo. All of this information will help your Birmingham injury lawyer build your injury case.
What Types of Damages Can I Get After Being Hit by Company Vehicle?
The damages you can get after an accident with a company car are the same as those you can get after any accident. You may be entitled to damages for medical bills, lost wages, loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and more. In some cases, if the employee’s behavior was especially careless, you may be entitled to punitive damages. Your Alabama car accident attorney can tell you which damages are most appropriate in your case.
Get Legal Help for Your Injuries After a Company Car Accident
If you were hit by someone driving a company car in Alabama, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. To learn more about your legal rights, please contact Collins Law, LLC. Our team is committed to treating every client with care and compassion while working to get them the compensation that they deserve. To learn more about how we can help you, call 205-588-1411 or use our website’s online scheduling tool to schedule a free consultation.