Employer’s Liability for Commuting Employees Expanded

By July 1, 2010Articles

Recently in the case of Lobo v. Tamco, (2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 297, the California Court of Appeal expanded employer liability for vehicular accidents caused by employees while on their way to or from work. The general rule known as the “going and coming rule”, exempts an employer from liability for negligent acts committed by an employee while driving on the way to or from work. The rationale being that the employee is acting outside the course and scope of employment during daily commutes. However in Lobo, the Court expanded the “required vehicle exception” to the going and coming rule and held that an employer is potentially liable where an employer implicitly requires or expects an employee to make his or her personal vehicle available for work purposes and the employer derives at least an occasional economic benefit from the availability of the vehicle. Where these factors exist, an employer may be held liable for an after-hours accident, even when the employer was not deriving an incidental benefit from the employee’s use of his or her personal vehicle at the time the accident occurred. In light of this decision, employers should carefully review their policies and expectations regarding the use or availability of personal vehicles for work-related purposes and the scope of any liability and auto insurance policies covering its workforce and business operations.

For any questions or comments regarding this Labor Law Update please contact attorney Michael Daly of the Daly Law Firm at 619-525-7000 or daly@dalylawfirm.co.