Home delivery is a convenient feature for consumers and a competitive advantage for businesses. Many small businesses offer home delivery to make consumption easier for customers. Unfortunately, time on the roads results in greater exposure to severe weather, poor drivers, and other traffic hazards. When an accident occurs on one of the deliveries, businesses should take preventative action to avoid liability. This is the case regardless of whether the employee was at fault. Failure to do so may lead to a frivolous claim.
Determine Whether the Employee Is Injured
Avoiding liability is important, but the health and safety of all employees comes first. Money and company vehicles can be replaced; life cannot be easily replaced. If the accident was sufficient to disable or severely damage the vehicle, the employee may be injured. If the employee is injured, he or she will probably be receiving medical attention by the time the restaurant owner is notified of the incident; if not, encourage the employee to visit a doctor for an examination.
If an employee is injured, determine whether the employee is able to come back to work relatively soon. If the employee will be unable to return to work at his or her full capacity, provide the employee with the appropriate paperwork to file for workers’ compensation. The forms will provide the employer with legal notice of the injury and an application for workers’ compensation. The employer will need to fill out its own workers’ compensation form, OWC-8, and submit it to the Department of Employment Services no longer than 10 days after receiving knowledge of the employee’s injury.
Collect As Much Documentation As Possible
In any accident in which the worker was not at fault, it is still possible that the other driver will attempt to file a lawsuit of some type. In these cases, documentation will be key to thwarting the plaintiff. Collect police reports, the employee’s driving history, and any other documentation relevant to the collision. The insurance company will want a copy of the police report unless the at-fault party admits liability.
Repair Or Replace The Damaged Vehicle
If the accident involved a delivery vehicle owned by the restaurant, replacing the vehicle in a timely manner is important. The vehicle is an important revenue generating asset. Begin the claims process as soon as is practical. Alternatively, contact the business’ insurance provider and file a claim with them; this may result in a quicker replacement of the vehicle, but may also result in increased rates. Discuss the matter thoroughly with the business’ insurance provider before filing a claim with them. Do not admit fault to either insurer.
Protect Yourself with Legal Counsel
If the other driver was at fault, a car accident lawyer will be useful in warding off frivolous claims. Automobile accidents involving commercial drivers can involve claims against the business, regardless of whether the business or the driver was actually at fault. Plaintiffs will sue the driver and the business, arguing that the business is vicariously liable for the driver’s perceived negligence. Additionally, plaintiffs will allege negligence on the part of the business, usually under the theory that the business owner failed to train the employee in proper driving procedures, failed to supervise the employee while driving, failed to verify the driver’s record, or other numerous theories of liability.
If an employee is involved in a collision while acting within the course and scope of his or her employment, businesses should prepare for a workers’ compensation claim and even a civil lawsuit. If the other driver feels that he or she was not at fault or if the other driver simply believes that he or she can get quick money with a frivolous claim, mounting a legal defense may be necessary. If an accident occurs, ensure that the employee is well, document the incident, and seek advice from legal counsel.
With small business owners in mind, Ann Bailey shares these helpful steps for coping with an employee work-related traffic accident. The Virginia car accident lawyer group at Price Benowitz LLP is on hand in the greater D.C. area to assist any client’s delivery business against frivolous claims in the event of a driver collision.
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