Damaged company vehicle , who’s responsible

I was in the company van parked on side street . When pulling out I turned my wheels as far as possible to miss a low tree branch, unfortunately the top of the van did not clear the branch and damaged the top of the van. Employer does not want to turn into insurance but wants to deduct a portion of it from my paycheck. Is this legal?

Asked on September 26, 2017 under Accident Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) You would be liable for the damage, because you were at-fault in causing it--someone who hits a stationary object (e.g. a tree branch) is almost by definition driving carelessly, and therefore at fault.
2) Therefore, since you would be liable, if you don't pay voluntarily, or agree to a payment plan (e.g. paycheck deductions), they could sue you for the money and expect to win.
3) They may not take money from your paycheck without your consent or agreement (i.e. against your will), but you may wish to consent to the deductions: if not, as stated, they could sue you for the money; and also, unless you have a still-in-effect written employment contract preventing your termination for this reason, you could be fired for damaging your employer's vehicle and not paying for it.


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