Visitor Question

Can I recover costs for personal vehicle totaled in accident on way to work?

Submitted By: Paul (Pawtucket, RI)

My teaching assignments require me to use my own vehicle to travel to various locations when not teaching at the organization’s headquarters. While traveling to an assignment, I was in a rear end accident on the interstate highway and my vehicle was declared totaled.

I will have to spend several thousand dollars to replace the vehicle (it was purchased used in 2013), since the actual cash value my insurance company is offering for the vehicle is much lower. Does my employer have any liability here? Can I recover costs from a personal vehicle totaled in an accident when traveling to a work site from home? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Paul,

You raise an interesting question. In most cases, when an employee is driving a company vehicle during work hours, within the scope of his (or her) normal and customary work duties, and the employee is involved in an accident, his (or her) employer may be responsible for the employee’s injuries and related medical and property damage costs.

If you were compensated by your employer for your gas, mileage, or other costs to operate your car, you may be entitled to compensation for your property damage. If though, you were an independent contractor, and were not being paid during the time you were traveling to and from your appointments, you may not be entitled to compensation for your property damage.

Speak with your employer. If you were being paid hourly and that hourly wage included the time you were traveling to and from appointments, then your employer will likely be be responsible for the property damage to your car.

In the alternative, if you were not being compensated for the time you were traveling to and from your appointments, then your employer may not be responsible.

In addition, check with your employer to see if their insurance covered employees (whether independent contractors or full-time employees) for personal injuries and property damage resulting from a car accident during the time an employee is traveling to and from appointments. If so, they may provide coverage.

It’s a good idea to read the following for more detailed information…

A Guide to Wage and Workplace Laws in Rhode Island

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: December 5, 2015

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