Austin Company Vehicle Accident: Who is Liable and Who Pays?

company vehicle

Navigating the aftermath of a car accident is daunting enough when it involves your personal vehicle. However, the situation becomes even more complex when the accident involves a company-owned car or truck, or if you were using your personal vehicle for company business. Understanding who is responsible for your injuries, medical bills, and whether your employer has any obligations toward your treatment and recovery is crucial.

When you’re involved in an accident while driving a company-owned vehicle, several factors come into play regarding responsibility and compensation. Primarily, most employers carry commercial auto insurance policies that cover accidents occurring while their vehicles are used for business purposes. This means that if you’re driving a company car or truck and are involved in an accident, the initial point of coverage would typically be through this insurance policy, regardless of who is at fault.

However, the question of responsibility doesn’t end with commercial insurance policies. If another driver caused the accident, their personal auto insurance might also come into play. Similar to accidents involving personal vehicles, the at-fault driver’s insurance is expected to cover the damages and medical expenses of the injured party. This can lead to complex interactions between the insurance companies involved, including the commercial insurance of the employer and the personal insurance of the at-fault driver.

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees, which extends to situations where employees are involved in car accidents while performing work-related duties. This means that beyond the coverage provided by insurance, employers might have additional responsibilities to ensure you receive the necessary medical treatment and support during your recovery. This support can manifest in several ways, including but not limited to, providing temporary disability benefits, covering medical expenses not included under insurance policies, and facilitating your return to work, possibly with accommodations if needed.

The scenario changes slightly if you were using your personal vehicle for company business at the time of the accident. In such cases, determining coverage and responsibility can become more complicated. Some businesses carry non-owned vehicle insurance policies, which provide coverage for employees using their personal vehicles for work-related tasks, excluding commuting. If you’re in an accident under these circumstances, both your personal auto insurance and your employer’s non-owned vehicle policy might be sources of compensation.

Regardless of the type of vehicle involved, if you’re injured while performing work-related duties, workers’ compensation insurance may also come into play. Most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which can provide benefits like covering your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. However, navigating workers’ compensation claims can be complex and may require the assistance of an experienced attorney, especially if there are disputes about the nature of your trip being work-related or if your claim is denied.

It’s also important to consider the legal doctrine of vicarious liability in these situations. Under certain conditions, employers can be held responsible for the actions of their employees if those actions were within the scope of their employment. This means that if you were at fault for the accident while performing work-related duties, the other party might seek compensation from your employer.

Given the complexity of these situations, consulting with a legal professional experienced in personal injury and employment law is often necessary. An attorney can help you understand your rights and the intricacies of the various insurance policies and laws that apply to your case. They can assist in navigating the claims process, negotiating with insurance companies, and ensuring that you receive the full compensation and support you’re entitled to, whether from your employer, an insurance company, or both.

Accidents involving company-owned vehicles or personal vehicles used for company business introduce a complex web of considerations regarding responsibility, insurance, and employer obligations. Understanding who is liable for your injuries, how to claim compensation, and what kind of support you’re entitled to, requires navigating through commercial and personal insurance policies, workers’ compensation laws, and possibly the legal concept of vicarious liability. Given these complexities, the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney can be invaluable in ensuring that your rights are protected and that you receive the comprehensive support and compensation necessary for your recovery. Whether through insurance claims, workers’ compensation benefits, or legal action, it’s crucial to explore all avenues to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses following an accident in a work-related context.

The best way to ensure you understand all your options to take care of yourself after an accident involving a company vehicle is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Herrman & Herrman, PLLC. Our company vehicle accident attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience handling car accident claims. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients.

Our team includes a former insurance adjuster and several former insurance company defense attorneys, giving us insight into the personal injury claims process and how insurance companies approach these cases. We’re proud of our deep ties to our local Texas communities and the support we provide to various charitable causes and through student scholarships.

If you’ve been injured in an accident in a company car or commercial vehicle, it’s in your interest to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. If you hire Herrman & Herrman, you won’t owe us any legal fees unless we collect compensation for your injuries. Get a free initial consultation with one of our car accident lawyers by calling (361) 882-4357 or visiting our contact page.

What Is Considered a Commercial or Company Vehicle?

Generally speaking, insurance companies define a company vehicle as any car, truck, van, bus, or other types of commercial vehicle used to conduct business.

This includes everything from company-owned automobiles to delivery vans, passenger buses, food trucks, and semi-trucks. It does not generally include a personal vehicle that someone uses just to drive to and from work.

However, a personal car may be considered a company vehicle if you use it in the course of company business, such as going on sales trips or attending a conference.

Types of Company Vehicles That May Be Involved

The definition of a commercial or company vehicle includes many different types of vehicles that, such as:

  • Semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, cargo tankers, and other tractor-trailer trucks — Large trucks are used to transport a variety of goods across the country. Accidents involving these vehicles can lead to serious injuries because of the truck’s size and weight. Semi-trucks are used almost exclusively for commercial purposes. Whether owned by a trucking company as part of a truck fleet or by an independent owner-driver, tractor-trailers are considered commercial vehicles in most accident claims.
  • Dump trucks, cement mixers, and other construction-related vehicles — Construction vehicles are large, heavy, and challenging to handle, making them especially prone to accidents. Most crashes involving these types of vehicles occur on streets or roads in urban areas. Given how they’re used, construction vehicles certainly meet the definition of a commercial vehicle.
  • Agricultural trucks — Large trucks with open beds are frequently used to transport agricultural goods from farms to other locations for distribution and sale to the public. Because they’re being used for business purposes, these trucks qualify as commercial or company vehicles.
  • Garbage trucks — Whether a garbage truck is owned by a private company or a government agency will affect how a personal injury claim is pursued against the owner of the garbage truck. Filing a claim against a government agency has special notification and filing requirements. Speak to a truck accident lawyer promptly if you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a garbage truck.
  • Food trucks, ice cream trucks — Anyone using a van or truck to sell food or drinks to the public is using that vehicle for a business purpose. As such, food trucks and related vehicles meet the definition of a company vehicle for insurance purposes.
  • Delivery vans — These vehicles carry packages as part of a commercial operation, meaning they fit the definition of a company vehicle.
  • Taxis and limousines — Any car that carries passengers is generally considered a commercial vehicle, which includes taxis and limousines.
  • Rideshare vehicles — Rideshare vehicles used by Uber, Lyft, and other companies are engaged in a commercial venture when they’re carrying passengers. Uber and Lyft have insurance coverage that covers drivers and passengers who are injured in accidents. However, if the driver is not engaged in picking up or transporting a passenger, the rideshare driver’s personal insurance may provide coverage for the vehicle on the road
  • Passengers buses, vans — Commercial bus companies are required to employ licensed commercial drivers, take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of passengers, and have higher amounts of liability insurance than automobile owners. If a commercial bus driver causes an accident, the bus company that employs the driver may have liability for the injuries caused by the negligence of its employee.
  • Utility vehicles — Employees of both public and private utility companies use large trucks as part of their work. As such, utility trucks are generally considered commercial vehicles.
  • Moving trucks and vans — Like semi-trucks, moving trucks and vans are used to carry goods from one place to another. This means a moving truck or van is considered a commercial vehicle for insurance purposes.

Liability in an Austin Company Vehicle Accident

In personal injury cases, an employer can be held liable for the actions of an employee driving a company vehicle under a legal doctrine known as vicarious liability. This applies to any situation in which an employee’s negligent or careless actions end up injuring someone else.

For example, if an employee is driving a company vehicle and hits another vehicle, the employer’s insurance could be liable for any injuries from anyone in the other vehicle. The company would be liable if an employee driving a company vehicle hit a pedestrian or bicyclist.

However, for vicarious liability to apply in an accident involving a company vehicle, there are a few stipulations. First, the person driving the company vehicle must be an employee and not an independent contractor. This can be a complicated distinction to make, especially when it involves people doing gig work such as driving for a rideshare service.

Second, the employee must have been on the job at the time of the accident. For example, if someone is in an accident while carrying a passenger to a job site in a company vehicle, they would most likely be considered to have been on the job. If the employee were simply commuting to or from work, however, then they would likely not be considered to have been engaged in work-related activities at the time of the accident.

Depending on the specific circumstances of the accident, the driver and their employer could be held liable for your injuries. In some instances, the at-fault driver and company may have separate liability insurance policies that injury claims may be filed against. This can broaden the pool of money available to provide compensation. If you have been injured in a crash caused by a commercial vehicle driver, an experienced commercial vehicle accident lawyer at Herrman & Herrman can evaluate the insurance policies that apply to your accident.

Getting involved in a car accident is never what anyone plans for, but sadly, it happens. When the accident is caused by a company’s vehicle, the next concern if the victim survives the crash is, who takes responsibility for the cost? Is it the driver or the company he works for? These are the usual questions that beg for answers, and everyone must know these little tricky issues. So, if you unavoidably meet with a car injury you will know your rights as well as how to press for compensations.

What Should You Do If You Were Injured By A Company Vehicle in Austin?

  • First, allow your mind to be at rest knowing that the driver is a representative of that company and you are right to guess that the company is insured. In addition to that, the law recognizes the driver or the employee as a representative of the company which means the company has no other choice than to bear the brunt of any tragedy caused by their employee.
  • Once the accident is reported, the company’s immediate action is to investigate the state of the damage/injury and ascertain the cause. If it is a company that priorities its reputation, the investigation will only take a couple of hours to get rid of a possible mess.
  • However, the company’s attorney will handle the matter with thorough investigations to prove the possible causes like driver’s negligence, poor supervision on the part of the employer. Other instances where the employer may be found liable for contributory causes include: Negligent hiring culture, poor driver’s training, and poor vehicle maintenance.
  • The driver is equally liable if he is proven to have used the company’s car for his personal purposes at the time of the mishap. Even when the driver is guilty, the employer is not exonerated because the law will fault his poor supervision and failure to monitor the driver’s records. Whatever the case, the company will take care of the victim’s health wages and pay for other damages.

Do These Things Immediately After An Austin Commercial Vehicle Accident

  • If you get hit by a company truck, call 911 and get immediate medical attention, they will also help you file your report.
  • If you are not too bad, you can take photographs of the scene and document your details. Because some companies may quickly find a way of cleaning possible pieces of evidence against them.
  • Refuse to say a word to anyone, especially the company’s claim adjuster who may work against your favor.
  • Get in touch with a commercial car accident attorney who will protect your rights and help you get your due compensations.

In summary, if you ever get injured by a company truck or any kind of vehicle, you have the right to press for claims, but you need to follow these smart steps while surrendering your body gently through the healing process.

Compensation That Can Be Recovered

The types of compensation that may be sought after a crash involving a commercial vehicle include compensation for:

  • Medical bills related to the accident, including future medical expenses
  • Lost wages while you heal from your injuries
  • Reduced future earning capacity due to long-term or permanent disabilities from the accident
  • Damaged personal property, such as replacing your vehicle
  • Pain and suffering

What If the Accident Involves an Uber or Lyft Driver?

The main issue when it comes to accidents involving Uber or Lyft vehicles is whether the driver was on the job at the time of the accident. If the driver was carrying a passenger or on their way to pick up a fare, they were engaged in commercial activity, and the vehicle would likely be considered a company car.

Uber and Lyft have insurance policies that cover drivers when they are on the job. However, if the driver was on their way home after dropping off a fare, then they were not using the car for a business purpose at the time, and the vehicle would not be considered a commercial vehicle. If the driver caused an accident while driving home, the driver’s personal auto liability insurer would have financial liability for any injuries caused.

Hit by a Company Vehicle in Austin? Contact a Lawyer Today

There are many complicated legal questions when it comes to accidents involving company vehicles. To make sure your rights are protected and you have the strongest chance of receiving fair compensation for your injuries after a crash, talk to a company vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible. Get your free initial consultation with Herrman & Herrman, PLLC, by calling (361) 882-4357 or visiting our contact page.

Our firm has offices in the following locations: Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi South Side, Brownsville, McAllen, San Antonio, Houston, and Ft. Worth, TX.