For a startup to succeed, it needs to be lean and efficient: this can mean employees are using their personal vehicles to make shipments, meet with clients, and travel to worksites. Driving in a densely packed city like Chicago greatly increases the risk of accidents, and it might be difficult to understand your rights and responsibilities when using your personal vehicle for company business. However, this quick guide can help you understand what will happen if you’re involved in a car accident on company time, as well as how you can seek advice if you’ve been injured while on the job.
Much of the legal responsibilities fall on your employer if you have an accident while working, even if you were at fault: this is called vicarious liability in legal terms. To prove vicarious liability, you need to prove at least one of these three factors:
- You were conducting official business on behalf of your employer;
- You were performing the job or tasks that you were hired to do;
- Or your employer benefited from your actions in some way.
As an example, if you were dropping off a shipment for your employer, you would be conducting business on behalf of your employer, and therefore could claim vicarious liability. However, if you were dropping off your own personal packages on your lunch break, you would not be able to claim vicarious liability, and therefore would have the same legal consequences as if you were not working.
If you prove vicarious liability, your company’s insurance will be responsible for settling claims with the insurance of the other party. However, this may not protect you from personal lawsuits made against you by anyone injured in the accident.
The consequences of a car accident while working depend greatly on whether you were at fault for the accident or not.
If it can be proven that you were at fault, you may lose your job, face higher insurance premiums for your vehicle, or be sued by anyone injured in the accident. If you were injured in the accident, you can still file a workers’ compensation claim: except for rare instances, it’s not necessary to prove who was at fault to receive workers’ compensation, only that you were injured in the course of completing your work.
However, if you weren’t at fault, you and your employer won’t face higher insurance premiums, nor will you risk any lawsuits from other injured parties. Your company’s insurance will navigate a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance agency, which will help to pay your medical bills and repair costs.
You may also be able to sue for damages from the at-fault party, and you’ll also be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. All companies are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which can provide you with a cash settlement, repair and medical bill reimbursement, or both. Should you no longer be able to perform the responsibilities for which you were hired but wish to stay at the same company, it may partially make up the difference in wages, and it also entitles you to return to work on light duties or alternate duties as you recover.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident while working, your best choice is to seek out a Chicago lawyer experienced in car accident lawsuits, as they can help you navigate who is responsible for a settlement and how to successfully prove your case. It can be difficult to understand your liability, even if you were not at fault for the accident, as well as who is responsible for insurance claims; fortunately, you can rely upon a personal injury lawyer to explain this for you, as well as guide you through the process of receiving a settlement.
Should you have trouble with workers’ compensation after the accident, many personal injury lawyers, like Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, also assist with receiving workers’ compensation settlements.
Though you may not be at risk of lawsuits or higher premiums if you’re in a car accident at work, you have the same responsibilities whether you’re on the clock, racing to get a project delivered, or at home, relaxing after a long and productive day. This means following the rules of the road at all times, as well as properly documenting any accident you may be involved in, just as you would while off-duty. As with any other circumstance on the job, you should always take precautions to protect yourself from accidents, including receiving the proper training and wearing appropriate safety gear – in this case, a seatbelt, as well as a helmet if you’re using a scooter.
Working for a startup can be invigorating, but it can also be stressful, with tight deadlines and many responsibilities. This is especially true in a major metropolitan area, where fierce competition demands the greatest focus from every employee passionate about their work. With so many other considerations, concerns about your legal responsibilities when using a personal vehicle can fall to the wayside in favor of more pressing, mundane issues, like completing a project on time. However, with careful attention, you can prevent hefty lawsuits and serious injuries, ensuring you can stay focused on helping your startup company succeed.