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October 18, 2013

HR Fact Friday: Employer Liable for Sales Reps Using Own Cars

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: 6:00 am

A California court has ruled that an employer may possibly be liable for injuries caused by one of its sales representatives who was driving after hours. The case involved an employee who got into a car accident and caused injuries after work while driving to get yogurt and go to a yoga class. The person injured sued both the employee and the employer. The court held that the employer might be liable because it required the sales rep to use her own personal car for work and commuting and gave her a car allowance. The court acknowledged the “coming and going” rule which says that an employee’s normal commuting to work is not within the scope of employment for purposes of imposing liability on an employer. However, the court said this rule is overcome by the “required vehicle” rule when “the use of a personally owned vehicle is either an express or implied condition of employment…, or if the employee has agreed, expressly or implicitly, to make the vehicle available as an accommodation to the employer and the employer has reasonably come to rely upon its use and to expect that employee to make the vehicle available on a regular basis while still not requiring it as a condition of employment.”

As a result, employers who regularly have their employees use a personal vehicle for work purposes should note that they may be held liable, in certain circumstances, for injuries caused by those employees in their personal car.

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