What is my liability if I was involved in an auto accident with my work truck during working hours?

I received a letter from an attorney representing the person that I was in the accident with/ They are filing a small claims against the company I worked for and listing me as the defendant as well. Neither of us was sited from the police offer at the time of the accident. I need to know what my legal rights are.

Asked on September 2, 2014 under Accident Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You were named as a defendant in the lawsuit because you were the driver of the truck that was at fault in the accident.  The opposing attorney has to name all defendants in the lawsuit.

However, your employer is the party, who will be held primarily liable for the accident because your employer is the registered owner of the truck you were driving.  The attorney won't be going after you, but will be going after your employer because your employer's auto insurance is liable for paying the claim.

Don't worry about the lawsuit.  Any documents you receive pertaining to the lawsuit should be forwarded to your employer's auto insurance company.

If the case is NOT settled with your employer's insurance company, the opposing party's attorney will be going after your employer to obtain compensation for his/her client.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

First, you need to be aware that an at-fault driver (see below) can be liable for an accident even if he/she was driving someone else's vehicle and/or was driving for work; so that the fact that it was the work truck has no bearing on your potential liability.

Second, someone can be sued and be found liable without there being any police citation. A citation, if one is given, may be evidence of fault, but a lack of a citation does not mean you can't be sued and forced to pay money.

Third, you are only liable, or responsible to pay, if you were at fault in causing the accident, such as by driving carelessly (such as texting while driving, speeding, going through a stop light or sign, changing lanes without making sure the lane was clear, etc.). If you are sued, the other driver has to prove that it is more likely than not that you were at fault in order to recover money, and you can (if sued) defend yourself by presenting testimony and evidence that you were not at fault or that the other driver was at fault.

Fourth, your employer's insurer is not your insurer--don't count on them to defend you or pay any settlement or judgment on your behalf.


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