Do you own different business vehicles? While you may have insurance, it may not cover a lawsuit. Here’s how to reduce your legal risks.
Did you know that car crashes are the most common cause of work-related death for Americans? If you want to protect your business vehicles and the people driving them, you need to consider a few things.
You should list some rules that people need to follow to drive your company cars. That way, you can keep everyone safe.
Keep reading to learn how to reduce the legal risks of owning business vehicles.
Train Your Employees
Before letting employees use your business vehicles, you should make sure they know how to do so. Especially if you have a business vehicle that’s different from someone’s personal car, they should know how to operate the company car.
You don’t have to spend a ton of time on training, but a little can go a long way. Even just having employees watch a video of the car’s controls can help.
Ideally, you would have every employee practice driving the business vehicle in a parking lot. But that may not always be practical.
Still, make sure that whoever needs to drive your business vehicles is comfortable. That way, you can reduce the chance of them getting into an accident.
Verify Driving Records
Before you even train your employees, you should verify their driving records. You should see your employees’ history regarding accidents or tickets. If someone has a lot of marks on their record, don’t let them drive your business vehicle. You don’t have to hire a new applicant if they can’t drive safely.
And if you’re concerned about an existing employee, you can terminate them or move them to a new position. But to reduce the legal risk of your business vehicles, you need to keep them in safe hands.
One or two issues may be okay, but you should talk that over with the employee in question. Don’t give the keys to someone who you don’t trust to take care of your business vehicle.
Require Safe Driving Practices
Once you approve someone to drive a business vehicle, you should require that they drive safely. You can require a lot of things to make driving safe, but consider a few.
Make sure everyone who gets into your business vehicle wears a seat belt. You don’t want to be liable for an injury that a seat belt could prevent.
You can also require your employees to stay under a certain speed limit or the posted speed limit. Driving too fast can lead to an accident, so taking it slowly can help immensely.
Other practices you can require can be to turn off cell phones or to not eat or drink while driving. That way, you can keep your employees and your business vehicles safe.
Only Use for Business Purposes
Another way to mitigate the legal risks for your business vehicles is to only use them for business. It may be tempting to take the company car home for the night.
But if you require your employees to return the car to the office, you can lower the car’s time on the road. You also won’t have to hold anyone liable for an accident outside of work time.
Minimizing the use of a business vehicle can help in other ways. The more you use a vehicle, the more problems it can have.
Using the car only when necessary means you can take advantage of business vehicle depreciation on your taxes. You’ll also be able to make the car last longer, so you won’t have to replace your business vehicles as often.
Take the Vehicle in for Regular Maintenance
To keep your business vehicles in the best possible shape, you should take them in for maintenance. If you go too long between visiting the shop, your cars may have issues.
You should make sure you change the oil regularly and that the brakes and transmission work well.
Some mechanical issues can lead to unnecessary accidents. By keeping your business vehicles in good shape, you can avoid these and other potential problems.
Plus, as long as you only use the car for business, you may be able to write off the maintenance fees as a business expense.
If you don’t want to be out of all your cars at once, you can rotate when you take them in. Consider taking one car at a time over a few weeks so that you can use some at all times.
Get Business Vehicle Insurance
Whether you choose to buy your cars with a business vehicle loan or to rent the cars, you should get car insurance.
Like any personal vehicle, your business vehicles need insurance protection. While you don’t want to get into an accident, you never know.
Insurance can protect you, your employees, and anyone else involved. If someone suffers a severe injury, you can use insurance to help pay for those expenses.
Insuring your business vehicles can also be useful if you keep them outside. Some policies cover damage due to wind, hail, and other natural causes.
You don’t need to get the most comprehensive coverage. But you should have enough coverage in case something happens.
Create a Process for Dealing With Accidents
You should also create a process for how your company will deal with an accident involving a commercial vehicle. Make sure your employees understand the steps they need to take.
Create a process for handling the accident at the scene. Make sure there are versions for when your employee is at fault and for when another party causes the crash.
You should also set up a procedure for what to do if someone is seriously hurt. Consider what benefits you’ll need to offer if an employee has to take off of work.
Contact your car insurance company for information on paying for medical expenses and other costs. And don’t be afraid to include more details in your process so that everyone understands what to do.
Protecting Your Business Vehicles
Business vehicles can be a great tool for you and your employees. But they’re at risk as soon as you drive them onto the road.
Luckily, you can do a few things to minimize the legal risks associated with using business vehicles. Keep these things in mind when hiring employees or buying new company cars.
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