What to do if an employee was using a company vehicle without authorization and had an accident for which he is trying to sue us for his injuries?

UPDATED: Aug 6, 2014

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Aug 6, 2014Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What to do if an employee was using a company vehicle without authorization and had an accident for which he is trying to sue us for his injuries?

I own a lawncare company. I allowed an employee to borrow a work vehicle when his vehicle was not running. I gave him the restriction that he was only to drive home from work Friday and back to work Monday,and clearly stated this in front of 3 other employees. However, I received a call Saturday that he had been involved in an accident and was caught trying to flee. He went through 3 lawns, hit a mailbox and a parked vehicle, exited through a ditch and tried to flee. The police apprehended him stopped at a stop sign a mile away. He told the officer that the vehicle brakes failed. We have a statement from mechanic that the brakes were in working order at time of accident. We won a civil judgement of $6000 for damage. Now he is trying to sue us for “injuries”?

Asked on August 6, 2014 under Personal Injury, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Even if he used the vehicle beyond the hours you had given him permission to use it, IF there was a problem with the brakes that you were either aware  of, and refused to fix, or for which you should be responsible because you failed to do regular or proper maintenance, you may be liable for his injuries. However, to win any suit, he'll have to prove: 1) there was a problem with the brakes; 2) that problem and not, say, his own negligence (e.g. driving carelessly) caused the accident; and 3) it is the sort of problem your business should be liable for, because you were "at fault" in some way.

If he can't show that--e.g. he can't  show that there was a problem with the brakes, as appears to the case from what you write; or even if there was a problem, if you maintained the vehicle properly and had no warning of a problem, so you would not be at fault--he should not be able to win. Moreover, even if there, for the sake of argument, may be liability against you, if he was also liable (e.g. the brakes were a little "spongy" to feel, but even feeling that problem, he kept driving, which is careless), that liability would offset and reduce what you might be responsible for financially.

And, of course, even if he got past all those hurdles, he'd have to prove that his injuries came from the accident and the extent and cost of his injuries in order to recover. In short, it appears there are significant bars to his being able to recover money from you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption