A business owner might end up in a legal mess at any time as the result of the conduct of normal business involving the use of company or even personal vehicles. Whenever a traffic accident involving a vehicle used in one’s business happens, the potential liabilities can be ruinous. This is why policy in this area is so important.
Establishing a firm company vehicle use policy protects the business owner in multiple ways. Within the company, such policies set firm standards of conduct for employees in the use of vehicles. Clear guidelines help both employer and employee know the boundaries within which either may act. Beyond internal affairs, vehicle policies and their enforcement may shield the company from liability if it can be demonstrated in court that a vehicular accident occurred despite every precaution taken by the company to prevent such an event.
The institution and enforcement of such policies is vital, because otherwise a company and its management can be held fully responsible for property damage and loss, personal injury and fatalities. Whenever an employee is operating either a company owned vehicle or even one’s personal vehicle on behalf of company business, that makes the business owner the controlling party in the use or misuse of that vehicle. Should an accident occur, the business owner may be sued under the principle of respondent superior liability. Demonstrating a clear lack of firm vehicle use policies from employers will be one objective of the accident victim’s lawyers. Usage policies act as a defense since those show conclusively that the business owner took steps to limit or eliminate the potential for an accident.
However, merely having a vehicle usage policy is not enough. If such policy is not enforced sufficiently, it is the same as having no policy at all. Taking insufficient care in screening employee hirings, providing inadequate training in said policies, or insufficiently imposing employee discipline for violations, shows a careless and irresponsible attitude. This opens the door to liability on grounds of negligent action. And accidents involving vehicles which are not properly maintained in a sound mechanical condition also opens the door for negligent liability. The legal and financial consequences of losing in court or even having to pay a hefty settlement can wreck a business and certainly destroy its reputation. Therefore, establishing and enforcing firm vehicle use policy is vital to protecting your business and yourself from ruin.