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Au Pair car accident, Au Pair to pay damages?

(21 Posts)
CanadianFilly Wed 11-Jun-14 21:15:42

Not our Au Pair, but another Au Pair ours is friends with had a car accident. The Host Family is telling her she's responsible to pay the full amount to repair the car. This sounds very unfair to us, we're thinking of offering the Au Pair a soft landing at our place for a few days if things don't get resolved with her family.

Important details are that she was driving the car to pick up kids, the accident occurred as she turned onto a main road that has poor visibility due to parked cars, the family's previous Au Pair had an accident in the same spot last year so seems it wasn't due to her bad driving. She's been with them for almost a year and if she is made to pay for the car she'll lose everything she's saved. Regardless of what she has or doesn't have I thought when a family gives an Au Pair or Nanny use of a car they assume responsibility? Our children don't require driving so we got our Au Pair a bus pass.

Au Pair & family got connected through Au Pair World so no agency to help guide them through this. I'm mostly curious if others believe the Au Pair needs to pay for the car repair or even just the excess/deductible? To me it seems that if they tell her she must pay they're taking advantage of a naive 18 year old which is why I wanted to step in and help her leave if necessary. She doesn't have much time left with her host family and was going to use her saved money to travel with our Au Pair.

HornyHandsofToil Wed 11-Jun-14 21:20:38

I would assume if the accident is deemed her fault, she needs to pay the deductible on their policy. Their insurance premiums will be higher for years so they will end up paying for her error anyway. And I also assume they are already paying for her insurance cover. Not sure why they should be financially responsible for another adult's mistake.

VanitasVanitatum Wed 11-Jun-14 21:22:23

As it was in the course of her employment I would say no she is not responsible. If you chose to hire an employee and lend them a vehicle that is your risk, so they should cover the costs.

Fram Wed 11-Jun-14 21:26:08

This is why one has insurance! If she's at fault I suppose they could ask her for the excess, but I think it's fairly unreasonable of them if she was ferrying their children around.

Youdontneedacriminallawyer Wed 11-Jun-14 21:26:31

She wasn't driving for fun, she was driving for her work, so its grossly unfair to make her pay anything. That's what insurance is for.

Helpys Wed 11-Jun-14 21:26:53

Definitely not.

OvertiredandConfused Wed 11-Jun-14 22:58:26

Our last au pair wrote off our car - and the accident was her fault. We never thought of making her pay. She never offered to make even a token contribution and never apologised!

It was covered on the insurance but the loss of our no claims and excess was hard to take. Plus the increase in premiums meant we couldn't afford to insure her anymore so had to let her go. I gave her notice, let her stay until she got another job etc.

trixymalixy Wed 11-Jun-14 23:02:51

She shouldn't have to pay. It should be covered by insurance. The host family will just have to suck up the higher premiums/loss of no claims as one of the risks of employing an au pair and expecting them to drive.

OutragedFromLeeds Wed 11-Jun-14 23:51:27

She definitely doesn't have to pay the whole cost (unless the cost to repair it is lower than the excess).

She should only be responsible for the excess if the accident was caused by her gross negligence. So, not a mistake that anyone could have made i.e. missing something because of bad visibility. Only if she had been drunk/on the phone/speeding/driving on the wrong side of the road/fell asleep etc.

holidaysarenice Thu 12-Jun-14 00:27:46

They are being very vindictive. I bet if they crashed their work car it wouldn't be the same story. Please keep advising the au pair I hate seen young people taken advantage of like this.

Soggysandpit Thu 12-Jun-14 11:41:13

I wonder if they haven't put her on the insurance......

Percephone Thu 12-Jun-14 11:47:50

They need to suck it up and pay. If anyone else drives a work vehicle and has an accident they don't pay.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 12-Jun-14 16:24:14

I employ au pairs and several other staff who have cars. You provide insurance for this reason, if you wish to recover the excess this needs to be detailed in a deductions section of the contract parking tickets and speeding tickets will be in the same category.
If your member of staff crashes your car you have to suck up increased premiums etc. I have to say it is something I have always accepted and been enormously glad that so far no one has ever been seriously injured.

ExitPursuedByABear Thu 12-Jun-14 16:33:06

We would love to be able to charge our truck drivers when they damage our trucks.

They should pay not her.

fledermaus Thu 12-Jun-14 16:35:47

Unless there's something specific in her contract about paying the excess then legally I don't think they can charge her.

beijaflor Thu 12-Jun-14 16:40:23

She should not pay. She is an employee driving for work. If they were too stupid to take out insurance, then they pay it all plus any fines for having an uninsured employee driving the 'company' car. If they did not have her sign a contract that specifically said she would be responsible for the excess, then she shouldn't pay a pound.

If they continue to threaten her, she should seek legal advice.

Johnogroats Thu 12-Jun-14 16:57:49

I had several APs driving my kids around. I paid the painful extra insurance, and fortunately we never had a serious incident. If there had been, it would have been us paying, except if she / he had been grossly negligent - not the case here. I had one girl get a parking ticket after a year with us...she was hugely apologetic and we paid it, although I don't think we gave her as much of a leaving bonus as we'd previously intended to.

They sound pretty unpleasant.

HornyHandsofToil Fri 13-Jun-14 08:50:10

So an aupair isn't an employee when anyone posts about asking one to do any chores/work, but the minute she damages property, she's suddenly an employee? I agree if it was a nanny, isn't it touted on MN that an au pair is "part of a family" and there on a cultural exchange?

citytocountry Fri 13-Jun-14 11:38:31

They should definitely pay, not her. It should be insured and they cover the excess as well. That's life - it would be the same if it were your own children, and au pair's are meant to be "on par".

CanadianFilly Fri 13-Jun-14 21:03:35

Thanks for your responses, most of you have confirmed what I was thinking. Last time I spoke to her she said her Mom, real Mom not host Mom, might help her out. I told her again she shouldn't be responsible for cost of full repair, I'm not sure I'm getting through to her as there is a language & cultural barrier. I'll keep talking to her and my Au Pair and see what happens.

schlafenfreude Fri 13-Jun-14 23:28:43

Horny not by me wink an AP is always an employee in my book, possibly one that you treat as part of the family but the legal structures should always be there precisely for times like this.

Is this in the UK, Canadian? She should have a contract and she should be insured by the family to drive the car. The contract should cover who is responsible for the excess, parking tickets etc. if it doesn't then she isn't.

A good rule of thumb is to think what you would ask of your 18yo DD and most people would say nothing or a token contribution or payment in kind. The full amount is grossly unfair.

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