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Are you liable for damage to your company car in an accident?

Do you have a company car and wonder what happens if you damage it? Take a quick test and get an idea of whether you are liable to your employer for damages if you are involved in an accident in their car and under what conditions.

5 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

Employers very often provide their employees, whether they are professional drivers or drivers for clerical purposes, with a vehicle for business purposes. But all it takes is a moment’s inattention and they can cause damage. Does their liability and possible compensation vary depending on whether the vehicle is used only for business or also for private purposes?

The internal rules and the contract for the use of the vehicle are important

As part of the employee benefit, some employees may also use the vehicle for private purposes. It should be added that despite the obligation to tax this non-monetary benefit, it is a very popular and sought-after employee benefit.

However, the use of the vehicle, whether for business purposes only or for private purposes, also entails the employee’s liability for any damage caused to the employer. It makes a crucial difference whether the vehicle is used for business or private purposes. In the former case, the obligation to compensate the employer for damage is governed by the Labour Code, in the latter case by the Civil Code. This should not be underestimated by the employer or the employee using the vehicle. Good quality accident insurance should be taken out as a matter of priority. The conditions for the use of the vehicle, such as liability, maintenance, parking, security, etc., should be part of the internal regulations and, if the vehicle is also used for private purposes, a negotiated agreement on the use of the vehicle for private purposes.

Vehicle for business use only

Here, the employee’s liability for damages is governed by the Labour Code. It is certainly not possible to negotiate an agreement on liability for entrusted values. The car cannot be locked in a safe, similar to the case of money and valuables. In this case, there is only a general obligation to compensate the employee for damage incurred or damage caused by failure to comply with the obligation to prevent damage. Three situations are relevant:

  • Damage caused by negligence – for example, an employee causes damage to the employer by violating traffic regulations while driving a car. According to the Labour Code, the amount of damages may not exceed for an individual employee an amount equal to four and a half times his average monthly earnings before the breach of duty that caused the damage. Of course, this is the part not covered by the accident insurance policy, the so-called deductible.
  • Damages caused by intent, drunkenness or substance abuse – in contrast to damages caused by negligence, there is no statutory limit for damages caused by intent, drunkenness or substance abuse. Thus, the employee is obliged to compensate the employer for the actual damage (i.e. in the amount actually incurred by the employer). Damages are primarily paid in money, but restitution by way of restoration to the previous state is also an option, if possible. If the damage was caused intentionally, the employer may claim compensation for loss of profit in addition to the actual damage.
  • Failure to comply with the duty to prevent damage – the employee knowingly failed to warn a superior manager of the damage threatening the employer or to take action against the threatened damage. The amount of damages is limited to only three times the employee’s average monthly earnings. For example, the employee failed to warn of the poor technical condition of the vehicle and continued to use the vehicle, which caused damage to the engine.

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Vehicle for private use

If your employer allows you to use your car for private purposes, you may encounter two options. Either the free use will be part of your non-cash income, which, in accordance with the Income Tax Act, is 1% of the purchase price of the car per calendar month (minimum CZK 1,000). This amount is usually used, for example, for car insurance or tyre replacement. However, what matters is not whether you actually drive the car, but that you have it at your disposal. The other option is to rent a car. This is less common, but it’s good to know that it is an option. The rental price is usually much better than the market price for a car of similar quality.

It is then (usually) up to the employer to pay for the costs associated with the operation of the car, i.e. mainly the purchase of fuel, parking fees or car cleaning.

However, as mentioned above, if you cause damage while using the car in this mode, liability for this damage is governed by the Civil Code. In particular, the damage limit of four and a half times your salary does not apply.

Tip: Have you caused your employer millions of dollars in damages and now you’re worried about where you’re going to get the money? You can be worry-free. An employee is only limitedly liable for damages caused to the employer. To what extent and what are the limitations on this liability? We have addressed this in a separate article.

Take the test

Take a quick test now to get an idea of whether you are liable to your employer for damages if you are involved in an accident in their car and under what conditions.

1. Was there any personal injury or property damage in the accident?
Damage occurred –
No damage – you are not liable.
2. Were you at fault for the accident?
Were you at fault –
Not at fault – You are not liable.
3. Did the accident occur in the course of your employment or not?
While performing work tasks-
During a private journey-
4. Did the accident occur because you violated traffic regulations or internal regulations (e.g. work rules) of your employer?
Yes, you did –
No, we did not violate anything-you are not responsible for the damage.
5. Did you violate the regulations due to negligence or intent?
Negligence –
Intent-you are liable for the full extent of the damage caused.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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