Image Credit: State Farm on Flickr
As a business owner, you’re legally responsible for motor vehicle accidents caused by your employees who drive, when they’re driving as a requirement for work. What’s more, it’s not just truck drivers or delivery drivers. This also applies to employees running a quick errand to pick up some pens at the store.
When you’re found liable for damages from a car accident, you have more to worry about than just inflated insurance rates. If someone has been injured, you could face a lawsuit for medical bills that could go on for years.
Additionally, if you require an employee to drive their work vehicle to and from work, you can also be held liable for an accident that occurs during their commute.
While you can’t guarantee your employees who drive won’t be involved in a crash, there are proactive steps you can take to reduce the chances.
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1. Provide a Company Vehicle with Safety Technology
If your employees who drive do a lot of driving, it’s best to supply them with a company vehicle to drive. Buying a vehicle for their use costs more up front. However, it will save you a potential lawsuit in the end.
It’s important to choose a vehicle with good safety ratings. Employees who use their own cars might not be driving safe vehicles. Older cars are often heavier and can sustain more of an impact. However, they don’t have the technological edge on safety that newer cars have.
For instance, Sutherlin Nissan describes the driver-assisting technologies found in the 2018 Altima. These safety systems include Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Warning, and Intelligent Cruise Control. “Systems like the intelligent Forward Collision Warning provide drivers the extra reassurance they need to drive on busy streets,” they describe. There’s also an Emergency Braking System that monitors outside conditions with cameras and sonars.
Further Benefits to Providing a Company Vehicle for Employees Who Drive
It’s easier for employees who drive to track gas mileage with a company vehicle. They can reset the odometer when they enter and exit the vehicle. And you can easily verify this information if needed.
Gas is equally easy to manage with a company vehicle. You don’t have to worry about reimbursing receipts or mileage. Just give your employee the company gas card. Have them fill up the tank at the end of the day.
2. Require All Drivers to Take Defensive Driving Courses
Defensive driving courses are a good idea for everyone to take. These courses aim to help people reduce their driving risks by anticipating situations and making safe decisions quickly.
In an effort to convince the public just how important defensive driving skills are, Safe Motorist reports that crashes kill 41,000 people annually, and cause 3,236,000 injures. About 38% of all fatal crashes involve alcohol. And 30% of them occur because of speeding.
Your employees who drive may not be consuming alcohol before driving, but other drivers might. Learning defensive driving skills can help them make life-saving split-second decisions in a potentially deadly situation.
3. Ride Around with Your Employees
Jump in the car with your employees who drive to get a feel for their driving skills. They may be on their best behavior when you’re around, but you’ll be able to gauge their basic skills.
4. Always Check Driving Records
It’s idealistic to take people at their word about their driving habits and history. It’s not worth the risk. Just like checking criminal records, you should never skip checking someone’s driving record.
The Law Can Consider You Liable Even When the Other Driver Causes the Crash
Your employees who drive might be careful drivers, but even the best drivers have the potential to become involved in a crash. Also, just because another driver causes the crash doesn’t mean your employee wasn’t liable. There are plenty of reasons you can be held liable for your employee’s actions.
Comparative negligence, for example, extends liability to drivers for their own injuries even when they didn’t cause the crash. For example, say someone swerves into the lane inches in front of your employee and causes a crash.
Then, you learn that your employee was programming their GPS at the time of the crash. The law could hold your employee partially responsible. That’s because they were distracted and therefore unable to react fast enough. This will reduce their compensation for injury. It can also reduce your overall compensation in the case.
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to make sure your employees are safe drivers. By investing in their training and upgrading your policies to reflect zero tolerance for violations, you can keep your employees who drive for you safe. What’s more, you can avoid expensive lawsuits.