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Car Accident With a Driver Off the Clock In a Company Car: Is the Company Liable?

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Have you ever wondered who is responsible if you are hit by someone driving a company car after hours, or if you find yourself in an accident while driving one for personal reasons? Navigating the complexities of “off the clock” car accidents are not straightforward, and knowing where liability falls is crucial for both employees and victims. This blog goes over the legal framework along with common scenarios where a company may still be on the hook for accidents involving their vehicles and employees, giving you clear insights into your rights and what steps to take next.

Understanding “Off the Clock”

“Off the clock” refers to the time when employees are not performing their work duties or are outside the employer’s control. This includes lunch breaks, commutes, and personal time. Normally, employers would not be liable for what happens during these periods. However, specific circumstances can alter this general rule.

The Legal Framework: Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability is a principle where employers can be held responsible for the actions of their employees if those actions occur within the scope of employment. Here is what you need to know:

  • Employer Liability: If an employee is using a company vehicle or is performing tasks related to their job, the employer may still be liable for any accidents.
  • Company Vehicle Use: Even personal use of a company vehicle may be subject to employer liability if the vehicle is associated with the company, such as through logos or branding.
  • On-Call Employees: If an employee is on call, their activities may be considered under the scope of their employment, increasing the potential for employer liability.

Key Scenarios Where Employers May Be Liable While Off The Clock

Understanding when an employer may be liable is vital, especially if you find yourself in an accident involving a company vehicle:

  1. Personal Use of Company Vehicles: If the accident occurs while an employee is using the company vehicle for personal reasons but with employer permission, the company may still be held liable.
  2. On-Call Situations: Employees who are expected to handle work emergencies during their off hours can pose liability for the company if an accident occurs.
  3. Work-Related Errands Outside Regular Hours: If an accident happens while completing tasks at the employer’s request, the employer could be liable.

Off The Clock Car Accident Takeaways and Implications

  • Employee Caution: As an employee, be aware of your responsibilities when using a company vehicle or when you’re on call.
  • Potential Recourse for Victims: If you are hit by someone driving a company vehicle, the company may be liable, especially if the driver was performing work-related tasks or using a visibly branded company vehicle.
  • Consult Legal Help: Whether you are an employee involved in an accident or a victim of such an incident, consulting with a personal injury attorney can clarify specific liabilities and help pursue appropriate claims.

Conclusion

The line between personal and work-related use of company vehicles can be thin, and understanding when an employer may be liable is essential. If you find yourself in such a situation, whether as an employee or as someone affected by an accident with a company vehicle, seeking legal advice is crucial. The attorneys at Washington Law Center can help you better understand your rights, call today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ashton Dennis

Partner
Personal Injury Attorney

Ashton Dennis is a litigation and trial attorney at Washington Law Center focused on representing individuals and families who have suffered a serious personal injury or wrongful death. He was named one of the “Top 40 Under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers of Washington State and one of the “Premier 100” trial attorneys by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers in Washington. Click here to learn more about Ashton.

Personal Injury Attorney - Ashton Dennis - Tacoma, WA - Washington Law Center

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