Use of a company car is often perceived as a major perk for employees. At times you can do away with the need to own your own vehicle and saving thousands per year without the extra expenses.
For others it is an essential requirement of their day to day roles on the road. You will spend a lot of time in your company vehicle including travelling to and from your home to your workplace or out on the road visiting clients and off-site work locations.
What happens if you are involved in a car accident whilst on the road in the company car? Does it matter if it is within work hours or for private use? What are my rights and responsibilities whilst using a company vehicle? What should I expect from my employer?
As an employee what are my responsibilities while driving a company car?
- Read your company's car policy carefully.
- Ensure you are permitted to drive your company car outside of work hours. Some companies do not allow employees to drive company cars outside of business hours or business use. There may be consequences of breaking this contract clause, however it will not necessarily preclude you from claiming damages if you are injured in a transport accident whilst driving the car.
- Check with your employer about the insurance on the car. Ask them who they would prefer to be called if an accident occurs and what documentation you require.
- Make sure you follow road rules and are responsible behind the wheel.
- Keep the car well maintained as per its schedule or your company’s policy. Keep it clean, make sure you take it for its services and report any damage to your employer immediately.
Employer responsibilities for company cars
Your company vehicle is seen to be a workplace and should adhere to all workplace health and safety checks. Your employer therefore has a duty to ensure that while you are driving a company car you don’t face any health and safety risks.
Your employer should provide the following:
- Up-to-date insurance and registration for all company cars
- Have a register of all drivers and a copy of their valid driver’s licences
- Clear policies for company car use (inside and outside of work hours)
- If the company cars are rotated between staff members an up-to-date vehicle log to track who has each vehicle.
- All supplied company vehicles should be well maintained, have up-to-date service logbooks and where applicable emergency supplies for breakdowns or first aid kits etc.
- Ensure employees know the policy and protocols for any motor vehicle accidents, breakdowns or other unforeseen events.
I have had a work-related car accident - who is responsible?
In most cases your employer is liable for any damages caused whilst you are driving a company car – within the limits of your contract for the vehicle and its use. If you are an employee and you were at fault in a car accident, in some circumstances your employer may be responsible to pay for the damage you caused. This is called 'vicarious liability'.
If you are an independent contractor driving your own car and you are at fault in a car accident, you will be responsible for any damage caused as a result of the accident.
If you have been injured in a car accident while driving a company car you may be entitled to make a workers compensation claim. If the accident occurred during your working hours, on the way to and from your workplace, then you have the right to make a claim under workers compensation law, relating to any injuries you have sustained.
I have been involved in an accident while driving my company car for personal use - what are my rights?
You have the same rights as with any car accident and any subsequent compensation claim for injuries. Be sure before you drive your company car outside of work hours that you are covered in the event of an accident by your company policies and the insurance cover on the car.
Contact Shine Lawyers – we know how to right a wrong
If in the course of your working day, either on your way to and from work or driving during your work day, if you are injured in a road accident you can claim for any serious injuries sustained through one of our expert workers compensation lawyers.
If you find yourself in a motor vehicle accident while driving a company car for personal reasons, you may be entitled to claim for your injuries under a motor vehicle compensation claim. Be sure to get in touch today, as strict time limitations apply.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: March 31, 2020.