Many of the cars and trucks out there on the road today are not owned by individuals; they are owned by companies. They’re not driven by commuters; they’re driven by employees. In these cases, it can be confusing to understand what happens unless you understand the law.
Under common law, corporations and companies are considered individuals. This has two basic elements. The first is that they are treated as individuals under the law and the second is that they have the same rights as individuals. It’s a trade-off. While corporations can benefit from personhood, it also means that they are vicariously liable for anything that their employees do. This means that if their employee causes a car accident on the road, then the company can be held liable for that accident.
How Employee Accidents Are Different
In many ways, car accidents involving on-the-clock employees are no different than car accidents involving two commuter vehicles. However, companies that employ commercial vehicles to make deliveries, cart employees from point A to point B, or perform any other function within the scope of required company work also need to have commercial liability insurance.
This insurance is paid for by the company and covers all of the company’s vehicles and drivers. It is against this commercial policy that claims are made. These commercial vehicles require a separate policy and are also subject to different state minimums.
In Missouri, drivers are required to carry 25/50/10 policies. This means that they need at least $25,000 in individual bodily injury liability, $50,000 per accident, and $10,000 for property damage. Commercial vehicles, however, are subject to a completely different set of insurance requirements depending on their passenger capacity, size, and what kind of materials they are transporting.
For instance, interstate passenger carriers that have one-15 passenger seats must carry policies up to $1.5M. Those with 16 or more passenger seats must carry policies in excess of $5M. Meanwhile, passenger carriers that only operate within the state of Missouri are required to carry 100/300/50 policies if they have fewer than 13 potential passengers and 100/500/50 policies if they have more. Trucks that carry hazardous substances can be subject to $1M or $5M policies minimums depending on the substance that they carry.
What to Do if You’re Struck By a Commercial Vehicle
As sad as this may sound, drivers who are struck by a commercial vehicle generally have it better than those who are struck by a driver’s personal car. There are two reasons for this. First, the vehicles have commercial insurance policies with higher policies.
Second, if it can be shown that the company behaved negligently, the company can be sued directly. It is almost never advantageous to sue a commuter driver directly. Even in cases where a plaintiff wins a large settlement, the plaintiff would become the equivalent of a creditor. The defendant could turn around and discharge the judgment in bankruptcy. If a company tried that, it would result in the liquidation of the company.
Talk to a Kansas City, MO Car Accident Attorney Today
The Krause & Kinsman Law Firm has successfully resolved numerous claims for our clients, securing them fair settlements from unwilling insurance adjusters. Talk to us today to set up a free consultation.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.