Can my employer take money from me for a car accident with a leased car?

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Can my employer take money from me for a car accident with a leased car?

I’m a soccer coach and this summer I was doing a soccer camp and had an accident. I was driving on a dirt road under the speed limit; I was not using my cell and was not under the influence of any substance. I turned a corner and the gravel gave way the the car spun off the road and hit a tree. My company had come to me and said that I need to pay $500 excess on their insurance. We signed a car user agreement that says I must pay 20% for damages due to negligence on my part. But I believe I was driving with due care and attention and even though no one else was involved this was not my fault. Am I liable here?

Asked on October 11, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) As a general matter, if an employee causes damage to his employer's vehicle (or rented vehicle), the employer may seek to recover their out of pocket losses (e.g. anything not covered by insurance) from the employer. To do so, if the employee chooses to not pay voluntarily, the employer would have to sue him or her in court and win by proving their case (e.g. there was negligence). People are only typically responsible financially if they acted negligently (carelessly) or intentionally badly.

2) If there is an agreement as to who will pay in the event of some loss or damage, that agreement should be enforceable as per its terms.

3) There is no way to say, from what you write whether you were negligent or not--for example, even if  you were under the speed limit, it's possible you were driving too fast for conditions (turning on gravel).

4) Basically, your options are a) pay the money the company request; or b) don't pay, and if they sue you, defend either on the basis you were not negligent or that under the contract, you feel you owe a lesser amount. Since that will take time and could cost money (e.g. if you hire an attorney), you need to think about whether fighting the claim is in your best interest.

 


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