If you are at fault for causing a car accident, then you are liable for any damages that result from that accident. This includes property damage, vehicle damage, and the medical costs and other issues that can arise from the incident.
However, liability is not as straightforward as it seems and often it becomes blurred when there are employees involved. If you were working at the time of your motor vehicle accident, you may be wondering if your employer can be held liable for any injuries and damages sustained.
Understanding Vicarious Liability
Under the legal principle known as “vicarious liability”, an employer may be considered liable for the actions of an employee—whether or not they were negligent.
But, vicarious liability does not apply in all car accidents; instead, there must be specific situations such as:
- The employee was acting within the scope of their employment duties;
- The employee’s specific actions leading to the accident were completed on the job;
- The employee was performing an activity for their employer that they were hired or instructed to do;
- The employer had benefited from the employee’s ability to do that activity.
That means that if you are in a car accident and you caused that accident while on the way to performing a service or task for your employer, then your employer can also be held liable for the accident.
However, if you were running a personal errand on your lunch break and driving your own vehicle, or even driving a company vehicle while not performing your regular job duties, then your employer is not held liable for any damages your accident may have caused.
Can You Get Workers’ Compensation for Your Car Accident?
In addition to liability, employers may be required to compensate you for your accident and injuries using workers’ compensation insurance benefits. This again, only applies, if you were injured in an accident while performing duties associated with your job.
Workers’ compensation is required by Florida employers and the insurance will compensate you for your medical bills as well as lost wages. However, you cannot collect pain and suffering and other related compensatory damages because you are not suing your employer in civil court.
To apply for workers’ compensation, you must prove that you were engaging in work-related activities at the time of the car accident.
If driving is part of your employment, applying and proving eligibility for workers’ compensation will be much easier than if you were running errands for your employer.
Commuting to Work is Different
The employer is only liable for damages if the injuries occurred while under the scope of regularly employment, which may make employees wonder how that applies when they are commuting to and from work.
In general, if you are commuting to and from work, you are not covered under your employer’s workers’ compensation or vicarious liability principles. That is because you are on your own time until you arrive at work.
There are exceptions to this rule, however. For example, if you were also running an errand or making a special stop while on your way to work, you may be able to collect workers’ compensation in addition to using vicarious liability for your accident.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney First
Before assuming your car accident applies to workers’ compensation, contact an accident attorney that understands the complexities of work-related accidents and liability issues in Florida. The team at Scott Sternberg & Associates can evaluate your case for free.
Contact us now to get started and schedule your free consultation with one of our Florida workers compensation lawyers.