Are employers liable for employees driving personal cars?

Chances are that you have employees driving personal vehicles for company business. Typically, companies are not at fault for anything that happens on the commute to or from work or while on personal errands. However, you can be found liable when an employee is driving their personal vehicle for business or within the scope of his or her employment. Legally, employers are often found liable due to vicarious liability, negligence, or both.

Vicarious Liability

The general rule is that the actions of an employee (or contractor) are in essence the same as the actions of the governing agent or employer.  So, when an employer tells the employee to perform an action (drive), it’s as if the employer itself performed that action. This means any claims received while on the clock are for both the driver and employer.


In addition to sharing liability, employers can also be charged with negligence. This could be negligent hiring, training, and or supervising of employees. When a company hires someone in a driving capacity, it’s their responsibility to make sure that he or she is a safe driver. This is true at new-hire, and also throughout employment. Failing to check or verify that drivers are doing their due diligence to be safe could be grounds for negligence.

The National Safety Council reported an example of both vicarious liability and negligence: “An employee was involved in a fatal crash while making ‘cold calls’ as he drove to a non-business-related event on a Saturday night. The firm did not own the phone or the vehicle, but the plaintiff claimed that the company was liable because it encouraged employees to use their ‘car phones’ and lacked a policy governing safe cell phone use. His firm settled the lawsuit for $500,000.”

How To Minimize Your Risk

Driving is the most dangerous work-related activity performed by employees. Employees who drive on company time (in any vehicle) can become a liability. Learn ways to reduce your risk by downloading our safety guide for non-owned vehicles or contact us

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*We are not lawyers. Consult with your legal counsel to ensure your processes and procedures meet/ or exceed safety standards and compliance regulations. Please read our legal disclaimer.

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