A common issue that arises itself in auto accident cases is an employer’s liability for an accident caused by an employee. Generally speaking, California employers can be found liable for the actions caused by their employees if the employee was acting within the “scope of employment”.
Legally speaking, the term “scope of employment” refers to the actions or activities an employee might reasonably undertake as part of his or her job. An employer is responsible for actions an employee takes within the scope of employment, which means the employer can be liable by third parties who are injured by the employee’s conduct. For example, an employer would likely be held liable for injuries a delivery driver caused when hitting a bicyclist while driving to drop off food for a customer. Conversely, the employer would likely not be liable if the same driver caused harm if he or she hit a pedestrian while using the delivery van as the getaway car in a bank robbery.
What is Scope of Employment?
While the scope of employment rule appears to be rather easy to define, it is not always apparent when an employee is acting within the scope of duty. Indeed, courts often struggle with the issue as well. Some instances, however, have long been considered within the scope of employment rule, including:
• A waiter who spills a scalding drink on a diner;
• A Thai food delivery man causing an accident on the way to dropping off an order;
• A salesperson who causes an accident while making a sales call on a potential customer (even if the salesperson was driving his or her personal vehicle at the time).
This list is not exhaustive. To discuss the facts of your specific case, contact experienced personal injury lawyers.
Workers are usually not considered to be working within the scope of their employment while they commute to and from work in their own vehicles, but a number of real-world situations can cast doubt as to when the work commute actually starts and stops as far as the law is concerned (i.e., Is the employee expected to use his or her personal vehicle to conduct business? Do they commute in a company owned vehicle? Was there a work-related activity or phone call that interrupted the commute drive?). Not surprisingly, things can get even more complicated when employees perform personal errands that are sandwiched between work-related tasks during business hours.
If you were injured in an auto accident by a driver who was ‘on the job’, you may be able to seek financial compensation from the employer. For a free consultation and to discuss your potential for financial recovery, contact the injury attorneys at the Ghozland Law Firm today.