Car Accidents and Liability Risks
As a business owner, you are already aware that a liability lawsuit can be detrimental at best, and devastating at worst for the health of your company. Managing liability risk must, therefore, be an ongoing priority. If you have employees who travel or even run errands on occasion on behalf of your company, it can be very difficult to minimize their liability risks because you can’t control other drivers or driving conditions. However, there are some steps you can take to help protect your company. A thorough risk assessment by a knowledgeable business lawyer can identify vulnerabilities. Taking preventative measures now can result in long as well as short term returns in the reduction of your company’s liability.
Here are some suggestions about what you can do to protect your company:
Be Diligent about Obtaining Employee Driving Records
Draft a company policy that any employee who drives a company vehicle (even if only on occasion) must submit their motor vehicle record and a copy of their current driver’s license for approval. Designate an individual or department to oversee this and to periodically review the information on hand to be certain that the records submitted by employees is current. Consult your insurance carrier to determine which driving record infractions should disqualify an employee from driving company vehicles. Submit your draft to your business law attorney for a review to ensure that the language is clear and is not unfairly or illegally disqualifying any class of individual. This can protect you from civil rights violations while protecting your company from liability suits from outside parties.
Make Sure that Your Company is Adequately Insured
Similar to privately owned vehicles and drivers who are required by law to have automobile insurance for liability reasons, your company must have proper auto insurance as well if you have company vehicles. Be mindful that in trying to save a few dollars every year in insurance premiums you could cost your company substantially more if your coverage is inadequate. Request an insurance coverage audit by your business law attorney to ascertain where you may be under or over insured for your needs. If negligence on the part of your employee causes an accident that injures someone, you want to be certain that the damages will be covered by your insurance. If they are not, your company may be held liable for any gap in coverage.
Institute Safety Procedures, Training Standards, and a Maintenance Program
If one or more employees drives a company vehicle on a regular basis, it’s important to establish safety procedures and an adequate driver training program as appropriate. For instance, if the vehicle is specialized in any way, the operators must obtain any required licensing. This may include having a commercial driver’s license.
Equally important is ensuring that all company vehicles are properly maintained on a regular basis. If a piece of equipment fails and someone is subsequently injured as a result, an experienced accident attorney will likely subpoena your company vehicle’s maintenance records. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s from the very start with the help of a business lawyer in Washington, DC and you will greatly lessen your company’s liability risk.
Thanks to Brown Kiely, LLP for their insight into business law and liability risks for car accidents.