Employee Car Accidents Could Be the Responsibility of California Employers During Commute

A recent court case concluded that a California employer was liable for a car accident that occurred on a work day during an employee’s personal errands.   The employer in the case, Moradi v. Marsh, required that the employee bring her vehicle to work and use it for business related activities.  The accident in question occurred while the employee was running personal errands after using her car to take employees to a company event.  While conducting these errands, the employee struck and injured a motor cyclist who then filed claims against the employer and the employee. 

When an employee is required to use a vehicle for work, an employer should anticipate taking on the liability for that particular vehicle and driver.  Prior to the ruling noted above, an employer was exempt from an employee travelling to and from work.  Now, at least in the State of California, an employer’s liability is expanded to include anything along an employee’s normal commute if they are required to use their cars for work.  This includes anything that is an extension of their normal commute, as seen in the court case noted above. 

In a time when companies are continually updating their employment policies due to ever changing employment laws, this is a critical change for any company that requires employees to utilize their vehicles for business purposes.  If your company falls into this category, it would be worth looking over current policies and procedures to ensure your employees, and your company, are protected should any accident happen while an employee is utilizing their vehicle on company time.

As a part of a review of policy on this issue, a company should also ensure that they are properly vetting their candidates.  A full background check, which can include a review of an applicant’s driving history, should be utilized for any company seeking to have employees drive as a part of their job.  There is no safeguard against an employee driver having an accident on company time, but it does give an employer some added peace of mind when they hire someone with a safe driving record.