The Law at Work: When is an employer liable for an employee’s auto accident
Generally, the law considers the employment relationship suspended while an employee is going to the workplace from home and coming home from the workplace. The “going and coming” rule means an employer is not liable for injuries the employee sustains or causes others, such as in an auto accident, during the employee’s routine daily commute. However, if an employer expressly or impliedly requires or relies upon its employee to have his personal vehicle available at work to perform his job duties or to respond to work-related emergencies or if the employer benefits directly or indirectly from the employee having his car at work then the employee’s personal car becomes part of the employment environment, bringing the employee’s commute within the course and scope of his employment and making the employer potentially liable for injuries the employee suffers or causes during the commute. In his Law at Work column in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Shareholder Dan Eaton further explains how the Court of Appeal applied these principles in overturning a judgment on a jury verdict against the County of Los Angeles in favor of pedestrian who was injured when a county public defender, while driving home, caused another car to hit the pedestrian.
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