The Going and Coming Rule
Under the legal theory of respondeat superior, employers can be held vicariously liable for the negligent or reckless actions of their employees. This issue is raised most often when an employee injures someone else while driving to or from work. Whether or not an employer can be held liable in these situations depends on the specific circumstances of the case, so if you were injured in a car or truck accident, it is critical to speak with an experienced auto accident attorney who can assess the facts of your case and help you file a claim against the responsible party.
When are Employers Liable?
Under Florida law, employers can be held liable for the negligence of their employees. However, this is only true if the injured party can prove that the accident arose out of and in the course of the person’s employment. This means that the plaintiff must establish that:
- The conduct in which the driver was involved is the kind of conduct that the at-fault party was hired to perform;
- The conduct occurred within the time and space limits authorized by the at-fault party’s employer or was required by the nature of the employment; and
- The activity was undertaken at least in part in order to serve the at-fault party’s employer.
Essentially, an employer can be held vicariously liable for an accident caused by one of its employees as long as that individual was furthering its interests at the time of the crash.
Exceptions to Employer Liability
Although whether this requirement is fulfilled is largely left up to the courts, Florida law does state that certain activities do not qualify as arising out of a person’s employment, including traveling to and from work. This is known as the going and coming rule and means that when an injury is sustained or caused by someone who is traveling to or from work, the person’s employer will not automatically be held liable under the legal theory of respondeat superior. This is true regardless of whether the employer provided the vehicle for the employee’s exclusive use. There are only a few exceptions to this rule, including when:
- The employee was engaged in a special errand for the employer; or
- The employee was a law enforcement officer and was injured while going to or coming from work in an official police vehicle.
However, even in the latter situation, the police department will not be held liable if the injury occurred as the result of a distinct deviation for a nonessential personal errand, unless the employer’s policy permitted those types of deviations.
Call Today to Speak with a Dedicated Car Accident Attorney About Your Case
If you were injured in a car accident in Fort Lauderdale by a driver who was on the job, you may be eligible to collect compensation for medical bills, vehicle repair, and lost wages from the at-fault party’s employer. To learn more and discuss your case with an experienced car accident lawyer, please call Boone & Davis at 954-566-9919 today.