Driving on company business: Who’s liable?

Q. Say an employee driving his own car on company business to make a bank deposit gets into an accident and is slightly injured. Is it his responsibility to go to his own doctor to seek immediate treatment and then to the workers’ comp doctors? And who covers the damage to the car? — T.R., Minnesota

When an employee suffers injuries from a car accident while acting in the scope of his employment, he’s eligible for workers’ compensation protection. In managed care states, such workers may have to be treated by a doctor chosen by the board or insurance company. In non-managed care states, the employee is allowed to choose his own doctor.

The issue of damage to the employee’s car is similar to the employee damaging his own tools while performing his job. For example, if an employee breaks his own hammer while working, the employer has no obligation to replace it unless the employer has promised to do so by contract or policy. Similarly, the employer has no obligation to pay for the damage to the employee’s car.  

The employee’s own car insurance policy will most likely cover the damages even though he was driving on company business. The employee should file a claim for those damages with his own insurance company.