Employer’s Liability in Employee On-the-Job Auto Accidents

If you reimburse your employees for mileage, you probably want to know about employer liability in the unlikely event that your employee is involved in an auto accident.

When employees hop in their cars to run errands for work, employers might feel released of liability if a kind of out-of-sight, out-of-mind way. Employees are in their own cars, and for which they better have their own insurance. If they cause an accident, some bosses feel like that’s the employee’s problem, but sometimes the liability does fall on the employer.

  • Lawsuits can be brought against an employer for an employee’s negligent acts while working off premises
  • Workman’s comp can apply if the employee is hurt off premises while on the clock

Of course, when insurance is involved, you can bet it’s complicated so let’s take a look at how and when an employer can be held liable for employee accidents.

Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability puts the liability of an employee on the employer while the employee is serving the employer. An employer can be held liable for an employee’s negligent actions while working (or traveling for work).

Vicarious liability gives victims the right to sue employers for the damage employees cause while on the clock. So for example, if an employee drives to the bank for her employer and injures someone in an accident, the victim could sue the employer for damages. Suing an employer is usually more lucrative than suing an employee so victims can use this law to get the most out of a lawsuit. Vicarious liability can be a nice loop hole to get more money, but it’s also an important protection.

The thing to understand here is that vicarious liability can make a company liable for something that happens off premises. If an employee drives somewhere for work purposes and gets into an accident and badly injures someone or smashes a Tesla, say, the employer can be sued to cover the damages that the employee can’t afford to pay.

Employer’s Car Insurance

So what about the employee’s car insurance? Shouldn’t the employee’s car insurance take care of any damages or injuries? Yes, it should and will in most cases. The problem arises when the employee doesn’t have enough coverage. This can happen when there are multiple victims in an accident. All of the victims’ judgements combined might cost far more than a normal policy covers and so the victims go to the next in line, the vicariously liable employer. The same might be true for damage done to an incredibly expensive car. If an employee totals a $300,000 car, the employee’s insurance probably wouldn’t be enough to cover it.

An employer should protect itself against this eventuality by adding the appropriate coverage to their business auto policy.

“The standard business auto policy provides no coverage for the employees that are sued even if the accident took place on company time… Most insurers will add “employees as additional insured” for a small extra premium. ” – Scott Simmonds

The extra insurance adds coverage beyond what the employee’s insurance covers. Having this coverage doesn’t mean that the employee’s insurance doesn’t get used in the case of an accident. The insurance follows the vehicle so if an employee was in an accident in their own car, their insurance is primary. The employer’s insurance kicks in if the employee’s insurance wasn’t enough to cover the damage.

Worker’s Comp

Employees can be eligible for worker’s compensation if they were injured while driving their personal vehicles for work related purposes. Again, if an employee was insured at the time of the accident, the employee’s insurance pays for injuries up to the covered amount. After that coverage is drained, the worker’s comp could cover further injuries or lost wages.

When the Employer is not Responsible

During a commute

When an employee is commuting to and from work, the employer is not liable for the employee.

If the employee stopped by Starbucks after running a work errand but before returning to work, they could not make a claim against the employer. Likewise, an employee could not make a claim against the employer if the accident happened after completing a work errand and heading home.

Damage to the employee’s vehicle

The employer’s liability does not include damage to the employee’s vehicle or the cost of the deductible.

Whether an employer chooses to assist an employee with these expenses is up to the employer but, generally, an employer can consider any of these expenses as a part of the overall mileage reimbursement.

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67 Responses

  1. Following these blog ideas will help all the employees who faced auto accident case. It really helped me being an employee, Thank you for sharing ideas. Great post!!!

    1. I was on the clock , I get paid for mileages that I drive for work. I got into accident and my job told me that they can’t do anything to help me at all and that I need to get a vehicle as soon as possible to get back to work. They won’t help me with a rental or pay me for the days I’m missing. I have full coverage but my full coverage doesn’t have rental options . Anything I can do?

      1. Only under certain circumstances is your employer responsible for any damages from accidents. I would suggest asking a legal counsel for advice.

    2. I’ve been moved to a site doing security I thought there was a patrol car on site there’s not so I haft to set in my car run my ac to stay cool in a store parking lot. Should I get paid for my gas and vehicle use.

      1. If you’re not using the vehicle to complete work duties, there’s a low chance that you’re entitled to compensation. You need to speak with your state’s local labor board to see what compensation you should receive.

  2. I had a special needs client cause an accident between my house and his, can I get me my employer to help pay my deductible?

    1. If it was an on-the-job accident, you should talk with your employer about it and ask them to help. If that doesn’t get you anywhere, try a lawyer, but from what I have read, the deductible is your responsibility.

  3. A State or Federal law should be passed to clearly define “Vicarious Liability”. There are jobs that require an employee to travel a lot and its the employer’s responsibility that they are on their best behavior while on duty.
    However, employment contracts are written by the employer and they can insert a clause that would waive them of any responsibility.

    1. So I got in to an accident during work hrs
      I work for a party rental company so I was taking my crew to another location for a party set up
      No one was injured except for the damage on my car
      My employer wouldn’t take any responsibility
      And didn’t want pay for anything
      What can I do ????
      Some one help please

      1. If you were using a company vehicle, it is typically covered under the employer’s insurance policy. In most cases, the employer’s liability coverage covers the employee against third-party actions. This means that your employer’s insurance company protects you from having to personally pay for damages. I would suggest that you speak with a legal counsel who can help you with your specific case.

  4. This is all so very helpful in more ways than one and so thankful for this; but what if let’s say an employee drives for a medical transport company, client in route to appointment and while driving employers vehicle by no fault of their own another vehicle rear ends them. What then? Seeking medical attention at an immediate care office and refused care for not filing injuries under workmens comp. Office would not allow it to be billed under the car Ins company. Is this right? Can they do that? Does an employee have to file a claim under workers compensation for the car accident instead of a normal claim with the car insurance company? Also, the at fault drivers insurance company continuously calls as I have tried calling my employers Ins company with no luck in making contact. Employer as well as employers insurance company avoids any attempts I make at communication .

    Help, don’t have any idea what to do.
    Please and thank you. Have a blessed day.

  5. My Son was woeking got in an accident and it was nit his fault – total loas the car. Now he is on Workers Comp. Broken hand, mental instability and all while supporting one hosp to another.

    I am concern because he jumps now while we drive him places.

  6. I work for a huge company that send their employees out of town sometimes. 15 mins a pond arrival, after driving 2 hours away from home, A man with no insurance hit me totalled my brandnew car. My insurance just laps.? I’m on company time and now I have no transportation to and from work. I called a lawyer, but she still trying to compensate from the guy who hit me that has no job or insurance. Can I sew my company? Its not like I drive out my comfort zone…please help with advice. Thank you.

  7. My employee cut through a private parking lot and hit someone without realizing and didn’t stop. My insurance denied their claim, am I going to be liable for the mountain of medical bills this caused?

  8. So if I’m at work and get pick up by another employer with no licence dose work insurance cover me for accident

  9. I was involved in a car accident on my bosses own time. He was the driver. I went to 2 jobs sites and was to return to the first one, but my boss had to make a doctor appointment. I went with him ( so he wouldn’t be late) to return to the first job after his appoinment. On the way back to the job is when the car accident happened… the judge said it was in my favor, now the jobs insurance is appealing it. Will I lose the appeal. My boss is also lying and saying my day was done, and I was just there for the ride.

    Note: I don’t drive at all, he was my transportation to and from work and I was paid for the whole day when the car accident happened.

    1. Make deliveries using personal vehicle.
      I get paid mileage to and from delivery. My last delivery heading home I past a red light injuring three people. The attorney for those people are suing the companies I work for. Can they do that?

      1. That’s unfortunately a question that you’ll need to ask an attorney.

  10. My car was parked in my clients. driveway, I was on the clock ,walking with my client when her daughter walked up to us and said she had hit my car when she was backing out of her garage, she hit my back right. quarter panel.

  11. My employer is telling me I have to have full coverage on my 11 year old, paid off car. I do get compensated for mileage at the standard US rate, but they are offering no compensation for extra insurance that I don’t want or need.

    My question is, are they allowed to force me to buy extra coverage? I

  12. I work for a staffing agency and we have a candidate working for a client who will require them to use a company car. They also want them to sign a damage payback agreement staying if they cause damage to the customers vehicle, and that damage was preventable by the candidate on assignment, the candidate will agree to repay the cost for up to 25% of the insurance deductible, or $250. If the candidate doesn’t full-fill this agreement, will my staffing agency be held liable?

  13. If an employer does not add an employee to the vehicle insurance and say the employee get’s into an accident and gets hurt, will the insurance pay for the employees medical bills? Or will the employer have to pay for the medical bills?

    1. Hello Stacy,

      It’s hard to answer your question because each company has its own rules, meaning that this will depend on your company’s policy.

  14. Hi, last July while visiting a friend inTexas, we were on route to shopping, when a city worker in a pickup truck that was parked on left side of road ,starting backing up, we stopped , he backed into us,causing damage to our car and persons. My lawyer is telling me his personal ins has to pay until it’s liability is exhausted , Then they can sue City of Dallas, his ins is only offering to pay partial medical bills and will not pay economic damages, As I lost the whole week of vacation, going to dr’s , as everyone was injured ,we could not follow any of our plans. I feel as though we should be completly covered for everything, the driver of the truck admitted it was his fault . Including all money I spent on airline tickets ,etc.

  15. Actually i am just moving a car into the wash way to wash the car, suddenly i lost control over the car and it is smashed into the wall, the car is expensive i am moving the car because it been very busy but my employer does not permitted me to drive that car so now he is saying that i have to pay all the compensation and it is a expensive Bentley car. They do have insurance but because they don’t want to pay more access fee thats why imposing all the money on me. What should i do now??

  16. I was traveling home in my personal vehicle from some out of town training. We are reimbursed mileage. I left work early to beat some bad weather. I was involved in an accident that resulted in an injury to myself. This resulted in lost work time and a difficult time working. Now following about 3 months my company wants to fire me. Could this be a workers compensation case?

    1. Under Vicarious Liability the employer is liable when an employee is in an accident while on the clock and is completing work duties. When it comes to workers compensation, the employer is not liable for the employee when the employee is traveling to and from work. It sounds like you left work early and were driving home, which wouldn’t make a case. Employers technically can fire you if you are unable to complete your work duties. I would suggest speaking with an attorney to see if you have a case.

  17. Does an employer pay your wages if your off work through a car accident when i was driving a client to an appointment in my own car.

  18. What if an employee does not pay for mileage? Is the employer still responsible for the employee’s vehicle if they are still on the clock?

    1. Hi, there. If the employee is on the clock, it looks like an on-the-job auto accident could be a case of Vicarious liability.

  19. What if employee on the clock driving work vehicle gets rear ended and seriously injured by underinsured driver? Then terminated do to injuries. Who pays?

  20. I was told to pickup equipment during business hours with my own vehicle. On the way back to deliver equipment back to this business I hit a curb due to ice/snow. Is my employer liable for anything?

    1. An employer is not not liable for any damage to your vehicle during an accident. Your employer is only liable when you injure yourself and qualify for workers compensation. And again, if you were insured at the time of the accident, your insurance pays for injuries up to the covered amount.

  21. I am a pizza delivery driver. While on delivery a car hits me and keeps going. I was obeying all laws. Who is responsible

    1. I’m not sure I understand. Are you asking which driver is responsible? Or are you asking if your employer is responsible? Your employer is only responsible for any injury to you– not the car. And even then, your insurance would cover most of the cost and your employer would cover the rest if you had a worker’s compensation case. If you’re asking about which driver is responsible, that’s up to your insurance company.

      1. @Lindsay in this case wouldnt the employees personal auto insurance decline to cover the claim since he was driving on business? Personal Auto insurance excludes business exposures…

  22. If I deliver food and on my way back from dropping it off I got in car accident I have my car in payments I don’t have a license or insurance of my own but it has the one who pertects the company who sold it to me is my boss responsible for my damage and stolen car

  23. During a conference trip on the way home I got into an argument with the other three occupants of the car and they put me out on the side of the road can I sue them or the employer for this state of Texas I had to find my own way home about 10 hours away

    1. Unfortunately I cannot provide assistance with you in this situation. I would suggest speaking for a legal counsel for advice.

  24. I was involved in a accident while driving my personal vehicle from the company shop where my work day starts to my first job site. I was driving for work from location to location not commuting to or from work. I rear ended another vehicle and at the time had a suspended license and lapsed insurance. The insurance company of the other driver has now placed a 38000.00 lien on my license and on my wife’s license because her name was on the title of the car. I know that it was stupid to be driving without a license or insurance. Would my employer somehow be liable for the damages that are now preventing my license from being restored

  25. I was in a vehicle accident while on the clock a going up to Kansas City to get a respirator fit test with 4 other employees I was driving a motorcycle when the accident occurred before I left the job site I asked my superiors if we should be in a company vehicle they said no so I asked the question again and they said no.. My accident involved my 2019 Harley Davidson street glide my company that I work for paid for all my medical and gave me workman’s comp.. My question is who is liable for the damage on my Harley it was a total loss.. My insurance company paid a certain amount but there still is a $8000 bill on a motorcycle I do not have and I was on the clock when this happened..

  26. Questuon, I got into accident while on the clock driving to our meeting place and a deer ran onto me. Do I get any comps on the damage on my car or nothing at all? Thank you.

    1. You may be covered under vicarious liability, but in most cases an employer does not have to pay for damages to one’s vehicle. I would suggest that you seek advice from a legal counsel to see if your damages are covered by your employer.

  27. The information I got through this blog has really helped me in understanding this topic. your manager’s insurance agency shields you from having to by and by pay for harms.

  28. Question, I used my truck to bring scaffolding to the job site, and some of the partially set up scaffolding had feel onto my truck door damaging it, and breaking the window. My employer said he is not going to take care of it. Is he or not liable for the damages?

    1. I would recommend speaking with a legal counsel about your options and in regards to the employer’s liability.

  29. I work in a youth residential setting, my car was purposely damaged by a youth at the site, I only have 3rd party insurance and it does not cover this damage. Are the organization I work for responsible for paying for the damage. Its over 3700 dollars worth of damage

    1. I would suggest speaking with a legal counsel about your specific case. This will all depend on your insurance policy as well as your employer’s policies.

  30. Last nigh I was parking in my implored and some brake my window and still my purse my dangers it’s 1800

  31. My company H.R. Department has the three strike rule I had three company vehicle accidents in there vehicles the first was in a big crew truck with a construction cone holder in the front and came no a stop light and just tapped the back of a van putting a small crease in there back door no injuries second one leaving my house company vehicle truck would not start tool upon myself to jump start it when I left after getting it going the hood flew up got dented shut it went to work strike two Google that year truck has faulty hood latch but company never investigated just said my fault strike three on the way to work in company vehicle traffic backed up bumper to bumper stopped Quick I hit truck in front of me no injuries just plastic cracked very miner but two weeks later was terminated after 13 years unions trying to get me back in but been over a month bills are pilling up can I get unemployment or do I have an legal rights I was making $95 plus. A year now nothing anyone help or is this all my fault tough luck thanks

    1. I would suggest speaking with your local unemployment office about your questions. Your state should also have an unemployment website where you can look at FAQs and view registration forms.

  32. This is besides the point but I can’t find anything on it. What if I was working on a customer’s truck for a dealership and I accidentally ding the door and now they are making pay 500 dollars worth of damage? Is their insurance suppose to cover that or is it all on me?

    1. You should speak with a legal counsel for guidance or try speaking with your insurance company.

  33. I stay at workplace and the control gate hit my car on my way in to workplaces and it damaged the door.

  34. I use my personal vehicle to deliver pizza. I have personal insurance (does not cover while working) and, my employer pays for insurance on my car while working. If I get into an accident while working and, this accident is my fault, will my premium for my personal insurance go up or is it less relevant because they don’t cover the work use?

  35. I was told I cannot drive on the job site because I am in uninsurable by the company, but I drive my own personal vehicle to work and on the job. What’s the reason I can drive to work but not the job

    1. Your company’s policy must have certain driving standards. I would suggest that you speak with you HR representative to get a better understanding

  36. I am a truck drive. I had an accident on road. My employer filed a case against me to claim a insurance deductibles in civil claim court. Am I responsible to pay that money or not?

    1. This is a question that you’ll want to ask an attorney. Additionally, you may want to speak with your insurance company as well.

  37. My wife’s personal truck was stolen while on company time and being paid mileage. Her truck was recovered but totally stripped and considered a total loss. Whose insurance company is responsible?

    1. You’re going to want to contact a legal counsel to guide you with this; however, it’s usually your own insurance company who handles this. Every case is different, so you’ll definitely want to speak to someone about your case specifically.

  38. I was at work im a fabricator so i work in the shop my vehicle was on company property when it was damaged i was in side working on the clock company time is the company or owner responsible for the damage to my vehicle. I have drove for the company and have been reimbursed for mileage in the past but not the case this time

    1. Hi Arlon. You will have to seek legal advice and review your specific case with a representative.

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