What Is Vicarious Liability and How Can It Impact Your Car Accident Claim?

author by Christopher Hoffmann on Feb. 13, 2018

Accident & Injury Accident & Injury  Car Accident Accident & Injury  Personal Injury 

Summary: Before you drive a company car, it is imperative that you know what you can and cannot do when driving it.


There are many perks to having a company car. In some cases you can drive the car freely; it’s considered yours and is insured no matter where you go or what you do. Other company cars may be housed by your boss, and you are allowed to use the vehicle to make deliveries or to engage in work-related activities that are under the scope of your employment. When you are driving a company car, it is best to know exactly what the expectations for your driving are and what type of insurance the car has before you head out.


In Missouri, if you are driving a company car making deliveries or running around town for your boss and you get into an accident and are at-fault, then you are typically insured under the concept of “vicarious liability.” Vicarious liability means that if you are driving someone else’s car with their explicit consent and you are in an at-fault accident, in most circumstances, the car owner is responsible and liable for any damages and injuries that result from the accident.


The Limitations of Vicarious Liability When You Are Driving a Company Car

To be covered under vicarious liability when driving a car for work, you have to be performing under the authority and scope of your work-related duties. This means if you are making a delivery and get into an accident and are at-fault, your boss would likely be liable for any damages or injuries. However, if you make the delivery, decide to take the vehicle to run a personal errand and are then in an accident, it may negate vicarious liability.


Vicarious liability will only cover you if you can prove that you were engaging in work-related activities. If your employer can show that you were doing something outside of the scope of what you were authorized to do, then the financial responsibility for any damages and injuries from the accident may rest with you.


Before you drive a company car, it is imperative that you know what you can and cannot do when driving it. If your employer has given you a company car as a perk of your employment and has insurance to cover you regardless of what you are doing if you get into an accident, then you need not worry. However, if they are lending your their car with the assumption that you are only authorized to drive it for the purpose of working, then do not think one little errand can't get you into trouble.


It isn’t about doing personal things while on the clock as much as it is about you not being covered through vicarious liability if your employer can prove that you weren’t working under the scope of your employment. If you are in an accident in Missouri and there is a question about whether you were engaging in work-related activities, it is best to hire a St. Louis car accident lawyer to defend you and to ensure that you are covered by your employer’s insurance.



The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C.


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