Work Vehicle Accident Lawyers Erie, PA
Experienced Work Vehicle Accident Lawyers Committed to Defending Injured Clients in Western Pennsylvania
Car accidents can be expensive and, in a work vehicle accident, it is likely that all parties to the accident will have questions regarding who will be responsible for the financial consequences of the accident. The driver may wonder whether the employer’s insurance policy will kick in to cover the damages, while an injured third party who was not at fault for the accident will question who will be responsible for providing compensation for those injuries. When the employee is the injured party, workers compensation issues can even come into play.
At Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C., our lawyers have the experience and skills necessary to succeed in cases involving complex employment liability theories, commercial insurance policies and workers’ compensation claims. We understand what it takes to succeed when faced with the aggressive tactics of insurance adjusters and an employer’s defense attorneys who are incentivized to minimize financial liability on behalf of the employer. In fact, one member of our team even has over 25 years’ experience working for insurance companies and gaining first-hand knowledge of the strategies they are likely to employ to win—giving us a unique perspective that has made us even more successful in our advocacy for injured clients.
Elements of the Vicarious Liability Theory of Recovery
Work vehicle accidents usually present the added complication of determining who is actually financially responsible for injuries sustained in the accident—the driver or the employer. In order for an employer to be held responsible for the actions of someone working on his or her behalf pursuant to vicarious liability or respondent superior, theory, certain elements have to be established, including:
- Employment relationship. For vicarious liability to apply, the driver of the work vehicle had to have been an employee of the employer, as opposed to an independent contractor. It is important to remember that determining whether an employment relationship exists is a fact-sensitive inquiry, and a skilled lawyer may be able to build a strong case to refute independent contractor status depending upon the circumstances.
- Acting in the course of employment. Even after an employment relationship is established, we must then prove that the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment duties. This means that the employee must have been driving in order to accomplish some type of act that was either authorized by the employer, or closely related to an employment duty. If the employee was running personal errands in the work vehicle and causes an accident, the employer will likely not be held responsible.
- Criminal actions excluded. If the employee committed some type of criminal act that caused the accident—for example, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol—the employer will not be responsible for those criminal actions.
In cases where the employer’s liability is established, the commercial insurance policy maintained by the company will kick in to cover any damages, and the employee will not be held personally responsible for the accident in most cases. While it is still possible to pursue a claim for damages against the negligent or reckless employee-driver, in most cases the employer’s insurance company will pay for the cost of an attorney’s representation in defending that responsible employee.
Our Experienced Pennsylvania Attorneys Have What it Takes to Succeed in Complex Work Vehicle Accident Cases
When the employee is the injured party in a work vehicle accident, workers’ compensation benefits will usually provide some compensation for medical expenses and lost wages after the accident. The employer’s commercial policy will pay for third-party claims in most cases. However, in some cases where the employee uses a vehicle for work extensively, the employer may actually require that the individual use a personal vehicle for work purposes. In these cases, the employee’s personal insurance coverage will apply unless the employee purchased a special kind of policy that will only provide coverage if the employee was using the vehicle for work at the time of the accident.
These complexities quickly add up after any work vehicle accident. Our lawyers have the knowledge necessary to help you navigate the legal system and explore all potential avenues to obtaining fair compensation and justice after a work vehicle accident.
Call to Schedule a Free Consultation for Advice in Pursuing a Work Vehicle Accident Claim in Western Pennsylvania Today
Call our offices, or fill out this online form, to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Erie, PA work vehicle accident lawyers today. For your convenience, we have three office locations located at 2525 W.26th St., Erie, PA 16506, 310 Chestnut St., Suite 111, Meadville, PA 16335 (in the Masonic Building) and 68 East Main Street, North East, PA 16428.
FAQ: How does pursuing a claim for compensation using an employer’s commercial insurance policy differ from cases involving a personal insurance policy after a work vehicle accident?
Usually, the primary difference is that the commercial insurance policy will have higher coverage limits in order to protect the employer and employee from additional liability. Despite this, insurance adjusters in cases involving commercial insurance may be even more aggressive in attempting to minimize settlement awards on behalf of a profit-motivated employer, making the help of skilled legal counsel even more important in these cases.
FAQ: What if I was technically at fault for the accident and was working and driving a work vehicle at the time? Do I need a lawyer?
In many cases, yes. Sometimes the employer will be reluctant to share information regarding the commercial insurance policy with employees or may challenge whether you were actually acting within the scope of employment at the time the accident occurred. In order to avoid personal liability for the work vehicle accident, you may need the advice of our experienced legal team. In other cases, you may need help establishing your right to workers’ compensation benefits following the accident, or in working to establish the actual cause of the accident itself.