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Company tries to make employee pay insurance deductible for damage to a company's truck. Negligence, Other Injury

Discussion in 'Accidents, Injuries, Negligence' started by Ayelen Gonzalez, Feb 15, 2017.

  1. Ayelen Gonzalez

    Ayelen Gonzalez Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello, I've trying to find what the federal and state provisions are for this type of events, but I've had no luck. I really hope you guys can help me with this.

    About 2 months ago my husband was involved in a "minor fender bender" with the company's truck - a carpet cleaning company. The accident was caused by a privately-owned vehicle that was performing a right turn on an icy, slippery road at the same time that my husband was performing a left turn - after stopping at his stop sign. The privately-owned vehicle accidentally slipped into the side of the company's truck while turning due to the icy condition of the road.
    Naturally, my husband contacted the headquarters to advise about the recent accident - as per company's protocol - and, soon enough, his supervisor got to the location to take care of the factual aspects of the accident.
    At that moment, there was no doubt that my husband was exempt of any possible claim for negligence, according to the assessment of his supervisor. It is fair to mention that the cleaning company has a high regard for my husband due to his impeccable work and performance.
    However, 2 days ago his supervisor came up to him with a copy of the bill for the company's truck repairs saying, "You are responsible for the deductible amount of $1,000", and "We will work out payments with you per check".

    Using common sense, I find this practice to be very unfair for the employee - whom, by definition, is always in disadvantage before the employer. If the employee is to be held liable for damages to the company's property, why would I even want to use their property to work for them? I mean, accidents happen and they should be contemplated as business expenses - unless, of course, it is proven that the employee was acting willfully with "gross negligence", which is not the case here and they know that.

    On the other hand, I am aware that my husband signed the employment contract in which there is a clause that requires the employee's agreement to take responsibility for potential damage, regardless of the cause of damage.
    Does this clause become null and void as they extend the employee's liability beyond the legal limits? Again, common sense tells me that internal contractual agreements should only add to the standard regulations and never take away.

    I just need some advice to help me figure out if I am correct in thinking that my husband is not actually liable to pay for this accident. Any help is much appreciated!
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2017
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Common sense is of very little use insofar as interpreting the law.
    I suggest you advise your husband to consult with three local labor or employment lawyers.
    If there are none in your county, a general practitioner should be able to answer his questions.
    The first consultation is often free of charge by most lawyers.
    If cost is a concern, he should inquire before he commits.
    After the consultations he should have the correct legal justification to sign or refuse to sign.

    Bear in mind, if he refuses, he might find his employment terminated shortly after his declination to sign.

    The terminations most employers make are done very cleverly so as not to appear as if it is in retaliation for his refusal to sign.

    Some personal automobile insurance policies or personal liability insurance MIGHT cover the $1,000 his employer is requesting.

    Another option available to your husband is to pay the $1,000, eliminating any negativity from his employer.

    He can then bring a small claims lawsuit against the "at fault party", and/or the "at fault party's insurer" in a attempt to recoup the $1,000.

    In fact, the employer can sue the "at fault party" without involving your husband, because it was their truck.

    Maybe his employer has no idea that another legal remedy is available to them?
     
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    1 - Your husband can be fired at any time for any reason. That's the criteria he and you should use in determining how much of a fight to put up.

    2 - A contract is a contract. He agreed to be responsible for damage to the company's equipment regardless of cause of damage. That eliminates any question about negligence.

    Once you understand 1 and 2 there is no need to discuss anything else in your post.

    It would be illegal for the employer to deduct money from your husband's pay without his consent. But if he doesn't consent he can be fired.

    Your husband might have a good case against the other driver who caused the accident and has the option of suing the other driver in small claims court for the $1000 that he pays to his employer.
     
  4. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    The employer can deduct from his wages with his consent as long as wages are not reduced below minimum wage or overtime pay.

    Fact Sheet 16 - Wage and Hour Division (WHD) - U.S. Department of Labor
    examples of items which would be considered to be for the benefit or convenience of the employer are tools used in the employee's work, damages to the employer's property by the employee or any other individuals, financial losses due to clients/customers not paying bills, and theft of the employer's property by the employee or other individuals. Employees may not be required to pay for any of the cost of such items if, by so doing, their wages would be reduced below the required minimum wage or overtime compensation. This is true even if an economic loss suffered by the employer is due to the employee's negligence.
     
  5. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Why was the cost not covered by the other drivers insurance? It seems the company should not even have a deductible to pay.
     
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I'm speculating but it's possible that the other driver's insurance denied the claim alleging that OP made a left turn and failed to yield and the OP's employer or its insurance company didn't bother pursuing it when the employee was the easier mark based on the employment contract.
     
  7. Ayelen Gonzalez

    Ayelen Gonzalez Law Topic Starter New Member

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    If this was so, what can my husband do/say to his employer? What's the language that he could use to communicate his discontent?

    The more I learn about the american labor laws, the more I realize that the employer is always the most favored in any setting. They always have the upper hand.

    I mean, look what the first person answers to me:
    "Bear in mind, if he refuses, he might find his employment terminated shortly after his declination to sign.
    Another option available to your husband is to pay the $1,000, eliminating any negativity from his employer."

    It's good to know that AT LEAST "I have options" - I'm being sarcastic.
    What about the NEGATIVITY FROM THE EMPLOYEE at such injustice? It seems that the law doesn't contemplate how such practices can degrade the employee's labor.
     
  8. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Welcome to the USA, nothing new in that no one cares for the little guy.

    The USA has always been for the powerful, the wealthy, and isn't as homogeneous as many people foolishly think.

    As bad as the USA is, there are few places better.

    If the USA is so harsh, one thing everyone of us can do, LEAVE.

    In some countries, you're abused, beaten down daily, forced to place pictures of the "powerful rulers" in your home and sent to "reeducation camps" for disobeying such outrageous abuses.

    Nothing new there, the BIG FISH make the rules, and sometimes eat the little fish.

    Your husband foolishly agreed to the ridiculous condition when he took the job.
    If he didn't like the employer's onerous condition, he could have refused the job.

    He still isn't required to pay, because if he feels strongly he can quit today.

    Anyway, I wish you and your family the best.
     
  9. Ayelen Gonzalez

    Ayelen Gonzalez Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you!

    I am very grateful that the doors opened to me to come to USA. Learning about this country's reality makes me value my nation even more.
    I only wish I had your competency in the labor law arena - you seem to be a knowledgeable person - to be able to do something for your people. The people of this country deserves better, but guess what? You cannot become what you haven't seen or heard. I humbly suggest you look up about the Peronism political phenomenon in Argentina. You could be the next person making a difference.

    God bless America!
     
  10. txls

    txls Well-Known Member

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    My company requires employees to pay the deductible if an accident is their fault. It's not all that unusual. If an employee is careless or negligent, then the company should not have to bear the expense. What's not clear in your husband's case is if he was at fault or not. However as noted, if another party was at fault, then they should be covering the company vehicle. I would think he could politely express his displeasure at having to pay the deductible when he doesn't feel like he was at fault, and inquire as to how the insurance claim was handled.
     
  11. Ayelen Gonzalez

    Ayelen Gonzalez Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I like your advice here. I think my husband will end up doing this.
    Thank you!
     
  12. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I'm a lawyer by education and training, a 30 year army veteran, I hold a BBA, an MBA. and JD, I'm a judge, a law professor, a cattle rancher, and have traveled to 80 of the world's countries, lived in 12 countries, and currently have residency status in Belize.

    Don't assume all US natives are ignorant.

    I don't assume anyone is ignorant.

    That said, yes, I visited Argentina when both Perons ruled.

    I am schooled in many things, and learned in many others.

    I spent four years in Viet Nam during the infamous Viet Nam war.

    I don't question anyone's bona fides.

    I assume others are as knowledgeable as me.

    Again, I wish nothing but the best for you and others.

    I've done you no harm, and will never do anyone harm unless I'm attacked.
     
    Ayelen Gonzalez likes this.
  13. Ayelen Gonzalez

    Ayelen Gonzalez Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hey! Don't get so moody with me! I was being nice to you!!! ...the argentine way, because I'm argentine :) I speak and write English with my argentine mannerisms :)

    Listen, I really wish I was in your shoes!!! Not because of where you are at - that would be nice too - but because of your preparation! I mean it.
    I am very sorry if you felt that I was attacking you. I was not. I really wasn't... it's just my argentine ways... I apologize :(
    I know you have done me no harm. You were just giving me information of the cruel reality. And I appreciate it. I was only quoting you to get more insight.

    and, please, you don't need to pull out your tittles as weapons with me. Your value goes beyond your tittles. In my heart, I had already appreciated your insight on my case regardless of your tittles, because, like I said, you seemed to me to be a very knowledgable person. I never assumed you were an ignorant. Don't you see it?!

    It frustrates me so much when my argentine mannerisms get in the way of my communicational skills which, now I think, are none!

    I like you! Hope Belize is being good to you!
     
  14. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    "I like you! Hope Belize is being good to you!"

    Belize is beautiful, and the people are very kind.

    It's one of the few hidden gems on this little planet.

    No worries, communication is always a two way effort.

    God bless, take care.
     
  15. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    Your husband should talk to his employer & find out the following - Was a claim submitted to their (the employers) insurance co. &/or the other party's ins. co.? (or is employer paying the bill except for deductible?) Was it determined by the ins. co./cos. that the other party was at fault? If a claim was submitted to the other party's ins. co. & they were determined to be at fault, your employer or you should not be responsible for the deductible. (the at fault party should be)
     

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