Normally, if you're struck by a car while walking to your destination, the at-fault driver is legally responsible for your injuries. However, if the driver is on the clock, his employer may be liable for your expenses.
When Employers Are Liable For an Employee's Driving
An employer can be held responsible for damages caused by an employee's driving whenever that employee is working. It doesn't matter if the employee is using a company-owned vehicle or his personal car.
Some examples of situations where an employer might be liable for your pedestrian accident injuries include:
- You're crossing the street and struck by a pizza delivery driver using his own vehicle to deliver pizzas.
- You're in a parking lot and hit by a secretary running errands for her boss in her personal vehicle.
- An electrician backing out of a driveway strikes you using a company-owned vehicle to leave a job site.
- You're walking your dog and hit by a FedEx or UPS driver making deliveries.
Typically, employees are considered to be on the job if they are performing duties related to work, even if they are also doing personal business and driving their own private vehicle. This means that employers are liable for accidents that occur on an employee's lunch break if the employee is also running work-related errands at the time.
Commuting isn't generally considered being on the job, so you wouldn't be eligible for compensation from the employer if you were struck by a manager using a company-owned vehicle to commute to work. However, if the manager made a work-related stop on the way to the office or drove to and from a job site other than a usual place of business, this could possibly be considered on-the-job driving that the employer would be held liable for.
If a driver is using a company-owned vehicle but not driving for a work-related purpose, the company might still be liable if the vehicle was not properly maintained and this negligent maintenance contributed to the accident. Accidents caused by negligent maintenance might involve bad tires, faulty brakes, broken headlights, or problems with the steering system.
Employees vs. Independent Contractors
A person who is paid by a business is not automatically an employee. Many companies now use independent contractors to streamline services and cut costs. If the driver is an independent contractor, the company is likely not liable for the accident. However, one notable exception to this general guideline is accidents involving ridesharing services such as Uber. Although rideshare drivers are legally independent contractors, the companies they work for often have policies that provide coverage in the event of an accident.
If it is determined that the driver is liable, you may run into difficulty making a claim if the driver doesn't have the correct insurance coverage. Most insurance companies require specific coverage for commercial driving, including performing services such as food delivery in a personal vehicle. If the driver is operating without this coverage, the company will argue that your accident is outside the terms of the policy.
Why You Need an Attorney
Liability for an accident isn't always clear cut, and a number of obstacles can make it difficult to receive the compensation you deserve. If you're not sure who is responsible for your injuries, retaining the services of an experienced personal injury attorney can help ensure that your legal rights are protected.
In addition to determining liability, your attorney can document your damages, line up relevant expert testimony, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. This leaves you free to focus on recovering from your injuries and moving forward with your life.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's award-winning legal firm has extensive experience helping Louisiana residents receive prompt and fair personal injury settlements related to auto accidents involving pedestrians. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review to discuss your legal options.