Work is stressful enough on its own, especially when your job involves driving in a company vehicle. This stress only amplifies when you find yourself the victim of a car accident. On top of worries about your health and safety, you must worry about your employer’s reaction. If another party’s negligent or intentional actions caused the accident, they should be held responsible for the damage and injuries the accident caused.
Read on to understand your rights after a car accident in a company vehicle.
How Common Are Car Accidents?
In one recent year, more than 33,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents took place in the United States. These accidents resulted in more than 36,000 deaths and 4.4 million injuries. In Texas alone, more than 3,300 fatal crashes resulted in 3,642 deaths.
A study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that a shocking 40 percent of all motor vehicle accidents are work-related. Of these accidents, 68 percent occurred in company-owned vehicles, and 53 percent of the accidents caused employees to miss work. In Texas, 608 workplace fatalities took place in a recent year, and 47 percent of those incidents involved transportation.
This data makes it clear that employees who drive as a part of their job face a significant risk of injury, including common car accident injuries such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Head and neck injuries;
- Back and spinal cord injuries;
- Damage to internal organs;
- Dental and facial injuries;
- Broken bones and fractures; and
- Cuts, bruises, and sprains.
Who Is Responsible for the Accident?
Work with your lawyer to analyze the facts surrounding the accident to determine who is liable for the accident. If another party’s negligent or intentional act caused the accident, they are likely responsible.
In a car accident, consider the potential liability of these parties:
- Negligent driver: If any other driver involved in the accident acted negligently, they are likely responsible for causing the crash. Negligence means a driver acted contrary to the reasonable standard of care under the circumstances. This includes violating traffic laws and regulations, such as speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and failing to follow traffic signs and signals. Be sure to secure a police report after the accident. The report will document important evidence including any citations issued to the drivers involved. A police report is also helpful evidence to provide to your employer about the accident.
- Local government: Cities and counties are responsible for maintaining roadways and traffic signals. If a poorly maintained road or a non-functioning traffic signal caused the accident, the local government might be responsible. It is often very difficult to pursue the government for recovery because the law protects it from certain claims. Work with your lawyer to determine if recovery from the government is possible in your case.
- Vehicle manufacturer: Vehicle manufacturers are required to perform safety testing before they sell a vehicle. If the manufacturer neglected to perform adequate testing or otherwise produced a faulty vehicle, they are responsible for injuries caused by these failures. For example, even if a faulty airbag didn’t cause the accident, the manufacturer may bear responsibility if the failure increased the severity of your injuries.
Securing Recovery for Your Injuries
You deserve to recover for all the injuries you suffered in the accident from the responsible party.
Keep any evidence of all the damages you have suffered, such as:
- Medical expenses: Keep track of all your medical expenses, including doctors’ bills, the costs of medical procedures, hospital stays, and prescription medication. You can seek reimbursement for these expenses. Also include an estimate of future medical care, including physical therapy or rehabilitation.
- Lost income: If your injuries force you to work a reduced schedule or to miss work entirely, you can seek reimbursement for your lost income. Your damages demand should also include an estimate of lost future wages and reduced earning potential, if applicable.
- Property damage: If your vehicle or any other property, including electronics, were damaged or destroyed in the accident, you can seek reimbursement for its repair or replacement.
- Emotional distress: A car accident is a distressing event, especially when it occurs in a company vehicle. Many victims suffer from depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder after an accident. Work with your lawyer to include a request for monetary compensation for this distress in your damages demand.
- Loss of enjoyment: If your injuries limit your ability to participate in activities that were previously an important part of your life, you deserve compensation for this loss. Examples include victims who can no longer participate in a sport they previously enjoyed or play a musical instrument they love.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages punish the defendant for particularly egregious behavior rather than compensating the plaintiff for actual losses. In Texas, you must demonstrate that the defendant acted with malice or gross negligence to qualify for punitive damages. Your attorney will assess whether punitive damages may be available based on the facts of your case.
Ask your lawyer to prepare a comprehensive damages assessment. Not only will any insurance provider involved in the matter analyze this amount, so will a jury if you end up at trial. In addition, it helps you to analyze any settlement offers you receive. Settlement offers can entice you because they allow for a quick and guaranteed recovery, but be sure to consult with your attorney before accepting any settlement offer. Early offers are likely to be significantly less than you deserve.
Contact an Experienced Company Car Accident Attorney
One of the most important steps you can take after experiencing a car accident in a company vehicle is to contact an experienced car accident attorney. Not only can an attorney help you manage the complicated recovery process after a car accident, but they can also be your voice in difficult conversations with the defendant, insurance companies, and your employer.
If you or a loved one was the victim of a car accident while driving a company vehicle, contact a car accident lawyer for a free case consultation.