In the case of an accident with a company car, the degree of negligence is decisive in the question of liability

Accident with the Company Car: Who is Liable and Who Pays?

An accident on the road can happen quickly. However, when a company car is involved, it becomes particularly tricky. The questions that often arise include: Who is liable for the accident? And who covers the costs? Not only does the degree of negligence play a crucial role, but also whether the accident occurred during working hours or during the employee’s private use of the company car. In this post, we clarify the liability issue in the event of an accident with a company car and highlight what employers should pay attention to.

Accident with a Company Car: Who is Liable?

After an accident, the prompt settlement of damages in the fleet is particularly crucial. Otherwise, there is a risk of disrupting business operations and incurring unnecessary costs for the company. But a quick question arises: Who is actually liable?

In general, the employer or the company is the holder of a company vehicle. Therefore, in the usual case, the employer is liable if an accident occurs during a business trip or on the way to work. The relevant details can be established in a company-specific car policy to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts.

Typically, the employer delegates their holder liability to a person in the company who is professionally and personally suitable for it: the fleet manager. This individual is responsible for ensuring that the company vehicles are operationally sound, and the drivers are fit for driving. Therefore, driver’s licenses must be regularly checked for validity, and drivers must undergo UVV driver training as part of their responsibilities.

Accident During Working Hours

If the employee is not at fault for the accident, the opposing insurance covers the resulting accident costs. The situation is different if the company car driver caused the accident. In this case, the degree of negligenceopen_in_new is crucial in determining whether the employee or the employer is liable:
  • Minor negligence: The employer is liable for the accident.
  • Moderate negligence: In this case, there is a shared liability, where the employee bears a deductible between 500 and 1,000 euros under comprehensive insurance, and the employer covers the remaining costs. If no comprehensive insurance is taken out for the company car, the amount the employee has to pay depends on the total amount of the damage.
  • Gross negligence: If the employee disregards a stop sign or a red traffic light, it constitutes gross negligence, and he or she is fully liable for the damage. However, if the damage amount exceeds the income, the employer must proportionally cover the incurred damage.
  • Intent: In this case as well, the company car driver is fully liable for the accident.

Accident during a private trip

Employers often permit the private use of company cars. When an accident occurs during such a trip, determining liability is not always straightforward. If private trips with the company car are clearly approved, and there is no gross negligence or intent, the employer typically covers the accident costs. However, the employer may set a deductible for the employee. The amount of this deductible should also be defined in a Car Policy to avoid future disputes. If private use of the company car is prohibited open_in_new , and an accident occurs during such a trip, the employee may face employment-related consequences such as a reprimand or even termination.

Safe on the Road: Driver Training according to UVV

To minimize the risk of accidents and damage to the car, and to enhance the safety of drivers, the legislator mandates regular driver training according to UVV. During this training, employees learn the safe handling of company vehicles and how to properly behave in the event of an accident. An especially useful method is conducting the training as an e-learning course, since it can be flexibly conducted online. The training content is already prepared and can be accessed immediately.

Safely instructing employees?

After an accident involving a company car, drivers should first contact the police or emergency services
After an accident involving a company car, drivers should first keep calm and secure the scene of the accident. The police should then be informed. If people have been injured, the emergency services should also be called to the scene of the accident.

Train your drivers at least once a year in the safe handling of vehicles according to UVV. The best way to do this is through e-learning.

The most important aspects regarding an accident with a company car.

If the accident opponent caused the damage, their insurance covers the costs. If the employee is at fault, the degree of negligence determines liability.

If an accident occurs during private use of the company car, it must be clearly established beforehand whether private use is permitted. Otherwise, it constitutes a breach of contract, and the employee may face employment-related consequences.

Regular driver training according to UVV instructs drivers in the safe handling of company vehicles and how to behave in the event of accidents. This enhances safety in the fleet and minimizes the risk of accidents.

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