Learn how the going and coming rule affects employer liability for accidents
In most cases, employers are liable for any car accidents that their employees may cause while operating within the scope of their employment. For example, a trucking company would be liable for an accident caused by a drowsy truck driver. However, driving doesn’t have to be one of the employee’s job responsibilities in order for the employer to be liable. For example, say an administrative assistant was sent out to buy more pens for the office and caused an accident. The employer would be liable in this case as well.
However, there are some notable exceptions to employer liability for employees’ driving errors. One such exception is the going and coming rule.
What is the Going and Coming Rule?
The going and coming rule says that an employee is generally outside the scope of their employment while commuting to and from work. This would mean that the employer cannot be held liable for accidents caused by the employee during their daily commute.
However, there is an exception to the going and coming rule. It’s called the special errand exception. If an employee is traveling to or from the workplace on a special errand requested by the employer, the employer will once again be liable for any accidents the employee may cause.
Recent Court of Appeal Ruling Upholds Going and Coming Rule
The California Court of Appeal recently considered a case involving the going and coming rule. In Morales-Simental v Genetech Inc., Vincent Inte Ong caused a car accident on his way to work at Genetech. Ordinarily, this would seem a clear example of the going and coming rule, which would exempt Genetech from liability for the accident. However, the plaintiffs argued that because Ong was driving to Genetech on his day off, this constituted a “special errand.” The defense countered by presenting evidence showing that the company had not requested that Ong come in on his day off, and that he had done so for his own convenience. The trial court sided with the defense, but the plaintiffs appealed.
On appeal, the Court found that, despite the fact that Ong was a lead technician with supervisory capacity, he could not order himself to come in on his day off. Therefore his commute was not a special errand and instead still fell under the going and coming rule.
The court further noted that allowing employees to order themselves to complete special errands would make it impossible for employers to control their employees’ off-shift driving activities and make employers unfairly liable for accidents.
Have You Been Injured By an Employee?
If you have been injured in a car accident that was caused by an employee, it is well worth considering targeting the employer in a car accident injury claim. To learn more about your rights and options, contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 now.