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You trust your employees to drive diligently and responsibly. However, you can never predict if and when they might get into a car accident while going from one job site to another or while making deliveries.
It’s an unfortunate truth that car accidents happen all the time and at any time. They can even happen to your employees when they’re on the clock and driving company cars. Luckily, business auto insurance can protect you from any legal troubles that you might experience as a result of an accident on the job.
Let’s look at a list of detailed steps on how to manage legal issues if your employee injures someone in a car accident.
It can be a scary thought to think that an accident that severe can occur, but it can. It’s important to be prepared and take responsibility as the employer.
Do These If Your Employee Gets In A Car Accident
#1 – Understand Who Is Liable In The Car Accident
Whether you know it or not, you are liable as the employer when your employee has an accident in the company car. Your employee is liable too, but you share in the responsibility. Depending on the kind of accident that happens, the other party could be liable as well.
Accidents are messy, and it’s not always clear who is liable. Figuring that out is the first step in this list. Get the police involved immediately and file a report with them. The report will help decide who is responsible.
#2 – Assess The Damage
Making sure your employee and the other party are okay should be a top priority. Assess whether they need medical attention and have them taken to the hospital if they do. Be mindful of the injuries to the other party in particular. Depending on the severity of their injuries, you and your company could get sued.
You should also determine how damaged the company car is. Calculate the cost of the repairs and the cost of having the car towed if it is totaled. Consider future plans of buying a new car if this one is beyond repair.
Assessing the damage will help you figure out how to go about filing a claim with your insurance down the road and help you work with an attorney to make sure you get the most out of your claim.
#3 – Get An Attorney
Attorneys can be extremely helpful in a situation like this. Insurance adjusters will be working against you while your attorney will be working for you to help you get the most money possible. Along with business auto insurance, the attorney will protect your rights and your employee’s rights.
In the case of the other party being injured in the accident, they will most likely hire an attorney and try to get as much financial compensation as they can as discussed in step 2. Having an attorney to guide you through what to say and how to respond will be beneficial.
Attorneys for cases like this are paid on a contingency basis. The percentages vary depending on the attorney’s experience and how well they help you. Percentages can range from 33.3% to 40%. The fees are usually taken out of the settlement agreement once the claim is filed.
#4 – File A Car Insurance Claim
Filing a car insurance claim for your business vehicle should be a smooth process with the help of your attorney. Tell the truth and don’t try to embellish anything. That can easily be construed as insurance fraud. Get the whole story and never, ever assume.
Again, this should be a smooth process. The police report should also give you a clear picture of what happened. Make sure you are clear and concise with your claim.
Once you have filed the claim, the rest is up to the insurance company. They usually process claims within 30 days. Wait patiently for their decision and rest assured knowing that you did all you could to ensure that the settlement would be a favorable one.
#5 – Sign The Settlement Agreement
Regardless of who was at fault for the accident, a settlement is given to both parties to sign. Look over the settlement agreement with your attorney and have them answer any questions you may have.
If you’re compensated for the accident and injuries to your employee, now would be a good time to make the necessary repairs to the company car or purchase a new one. Be mindful that your rates for your insurance can go up.
Now that the settlement agreement is signed, you can finally put the accident behind you. However, it may not be so easy for your employee to put the accident behind them.
#6 – Take Care Of Your Employee
Depending on the state you live in, your employee will be eligible for workers’ compensation. It covers a portion of lost wages and medical treatment that is needed.
Be gentle and gracious with your employee, especially if they have to deal with physical therapy or even mental health treatment because of the car accident. Give them as much time as they need to recover. Having empathy at a time like this is vital for your employee. They will appreciate you more and respect your authority. This also helps your management skills.
Dealing with an accident can be stressful and take a lot of time and energy away from you. No one plans to get into an accident while on the clock, but it can happen. As stated above, it’s a good idea to be prepared for something like this. Make sure you have the right insurance and the perfect attorney to help you. Don’t wait for disaster to come. Act now.
To review the steps to take when your employee gets into a car accident while working:
- Understand who is liable.
- Assess the damage.
- Get an attorney.
- File a claim.
- Sign the settlement agreement.
- Take care of your employee.
If you keep this list on hand when an accident occurs, you will be in good shape to handle it and all the legal troubles that come with it.
About The Author
Peyton Leonard writes and researches for the auto insurance site, AutoInsurance.org. Peyton is passionate about the safety of others and making sure employers look out for their employees.