Visitor Question

Liability if minor at work drives coworker’s car and rear-ends another vehicle?

Submitted By: Gwen (Dallas, Texas)

Nate is 17 (18 in September), he works in a window tinting shop, drives his personal vehicle to and from dealerships to pick up and deliver client vehicles. The business owner has coverage for Nate to drive the vehicles to be tinted and so on.

Last Thursday, Nate had driven to dealership A, left his personal truck there, and drove the vehicle to be tinted back to tint shop. The boss came to Nate and asked him to go pick lunch up for everyone, but Nate said he didn’t have his truck.

Boss asked Employee if he would allow Nate to drive his (employee’s) car to pick up the lunch Boss is paying for. Employee said yes, Nate went, on the clock, sent by boss, in co-worker’s car – to get lunch for the entire shop. Nate rear-ended another vehicle.

It turns out the Employee only has liability coverage on his vehicle. Employee gets an estimate to repair his car.

Is it Nate’s responsibility to pay to repair this car? Should it fall under “on the job duties”? What action should Nate take? If I file on our insurance, will they cover or deny due to being on the job? What are the options here? 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.

Answer

Dear Gwen,

When you refer to the incident falling under “on the job duties” you are referring to workers’ compensation. Workers’ comp covers injuries to workers while they are performing their work duties. It does not cover property damage or personal injuries to third party non-employees.

Liability for the third party driver’s property damage and personal injuries to the driver (and/or passengers ) will likely be apportioned among Nate, his employer, and the employee who owned the car.

The party who was struck may seek compensation from all three of you. Here’s why:

  1. Nate caused the crash
  2. Nate’s employer directed him to carry on work duties at the time of the crash, and Nate was fully engaged in those work duties at the time of the crash
  3. The other employee owned the car

If Nate was covered under his parents’ auto insurance policy, it would best to immediately notify the insurance company and report the crash. This is especially important as you don’t know if the driver (or passengers) sustained injuries.

Let the insurance companies deal with the matter. Nate will likely be covered as he was driving a car with the employee’s permission. The fact that Nate was performing his job duties should not adversely affect the claim.

Learn more here: Car Accidents at Work

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 with your claim,

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