No one anticipates getting into a car accident, but the question of who pays for the damages can quickly become complicated if the at-fault party was working at the time. Read on to learn about establishing liability in a car accident and why it’s essential to determine whether the at-fault driver was working when the crash occurred.
Employer Liability for an Employee’s Accident in Ontario
When an employee is at fault for an accident while performing work-related duties, their employer can be generally held liable for damages arising from an accident. This is known as vicarious liability, and it applies to many types of employers. Whether the employee at fault for your accident was a restaurant delivery driver or a government contractor, their respective employers could be held responsible for the negligence of their workers.
Employee vs. Independent Contractor Liability
The work done by an employee versus an independent contractor might be similar, but how a worker is classified can significantly impact liability for a car accident. A notable exception to vicarious liability is when a worker is considered an independent contractor.
Generally, independent contractors aren’t entitled to many of the protections offered by federal labor law — this extends to legal responsibility for accidents. An employer can be liable for the negligent actions of an employee, while independent contractors are typically held individually responsible since they are in business for themselves.
Independent contractors often carry general liability insurance, but some have insurance provided by a company even though they aren’t considered employees. Such is the case of rideshare drivers, so pinpointing liability after an accident can be challenging.
Was the At-Fault Driver On the Job?
Another aspect of determining liability is the issue of whether the at-fault driver was working at the time of the accident. Doing so can be tricky, especially when work duties and personal business are blurred. Even if the at-fault driver was in their personal car or conducting personal business at the time of the collision, their employer can be liable if the driver completed any work-related tasks or duties.
For example, time spent driving to and from work is generally not considered on the job, even if the driver uses a company vehicle. But if the driver is commuting between work sites or doing work-related errands in their car, their employer may be held responsible.
Why Liability Matters in Ontario
Determining who is liable for a car accident is crucial as it governs what insurance policy applies and the potential compensation since companies usually have larger policies with higher limits. Fortunately, Ontario’s auto insurance requirements can help streamline the claims process.
Ontario’s No-Fault Insurance System
Ontario requires drivers to carry direct compensation/property damage insurance. After an accident, you will most likely file a claim with your own insurance company for your vehicle repairs and other damages. This “no-fault” insurance system allows you to recover compensation even if someone else caused the crash.
However, recovering the full extent of your damages can be challenging when your damages exceed your policy limit. When you are in an accident caused by someone working, you must prove their negligence to hold their employer accountable for the remaining expenses.
Handle the Accident Like Any Other Collision
Regardless of who you think is at fault or how the crash happened, take the appropriate steps to protect yourself after a collision. If you or someone else is hurt, call 911 and report the accident to the police. Collect as much information as possible from the other driver and any witnesses and take photos and videos of the scene to document what happened. If the driver indicates that they were working, make a note of it, but let your lawyer thoroughly investigate.
Contact an Ontario Car Accident Lawyer
When you’re ready to file an insurance claim or are considering a lawsuit against the at-fault party, contact a car accident lawyer for help. A lawyer who knows Ontario’s personal injury laws can investigate your case, find out who was at fault and advocate for you in negotiations or in the courtroom to maximize your financial recovery.
Call Donnelly Murphy for Help
Donnelly Murphy Lawyers know the importance of getting compensation for your bills and losses after a car accident. We have decades of experience serving Southwestern Ontario and holding at-fault drivers accountable for accidents. If you’re hurt due to someone else’s negligence, let us help you get everything you deserve.