Court Discusses Whether Employer’s Insurance Company Was Liable for Damages Caused by Employee’s Drunk-Driving Accident

The determination of whether an insurance company is responsible to defend the at-fault party in a Virginia car accident case is often a critical issue because the at-fault party frequently will not have sufficient assets to fully compensate the plaintiff for the injuries they have sustained. In the event that an accident is covered under an insurance policy, the insurance company will cover the costs of the accident, meaning that the plaintiff will more likely be able to collect should the case be resolved in their favor.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case raising an important insurance issue that frequently arises in Virginia car accident cases. The case required the court to determine if an employer’s insurance policy covered an accident caused by an intoxicated employee.

The Facts of the Case

The defendant was traveling for work when he caused a traffic accident that injured the plaintiff. At the time of the accident, the defendant was driving a company owned vehicle, although he was not on the clock at the time and was not performing any work-related activity. It was later determined that the defendant was intoxicated.

The defendant’s employer had strict rules for the use of company vehicles when the vehicles were being used locally. However, those rules did not apply for vehicles that were given to employees when traveling for work. There was, however, a company policy that employees were not permitted to drink alcohol while on the job or while operating company vehicles.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, and was successful at trial. The jury returned a verdict in excess of $1.4 million. However, the plaintiff was not able to recover the sum from the defendant, and later moved to hold the defendant’s employer’s insurance company responsible for the amount based on a car insurance policy the company issued to the defendant’s employer.

The insurance company argued that it was not responsible for the defendant’s drunk-driving accident because the defendant was violating a company policy at the time of the accident and thus was not a “permissive user” under the insurance contract. The court, however, rejected the insurance company’s argument, finding that the defendant was a permissive user based on the “broad, almost unfettered” permission granted to the defendant to use the vehicle. The court focused on whether the employee was permitted to use the vehicle in the general sense, explaining that the manner in which the defendant used the vehicle was not relevant.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Virginia personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Charles B. Roberts, P.C. have extensive experience representing accident victims in Virginia car accident cases against difficult insurance companies. We know what motivates insurance companies to settle cases, and are prepared to take your case to trial in the event that the insurance company is unwilling to offer a fair settlement offer. Call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation today.

See More Blog Posts:

Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s Slip-and-Fall Case Against City Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Show the City Knew of the Hazard, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, August 6, 2018.

Court Discusses Defendant’s Liability in Multi-Vehicle Road Rage Accident, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, July 18, 2018.