California Court Discusses Vicarious Liability in Recent Car Accident Case

Earlier last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a California car accident case discussing whether an employer could be held vicariously liable for the allegedly negligent acts of an employee. The court ultimately concluded that vicarious liability was appropriate, and allowed the plaintiff’s case to proceed to trial.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was injured after being involved in a car accident. Evidently, the plaintiff was riding as a passenger in the pick-up truck that was being driven by his father. The truck was provided to the plaintiff’s father as a company car.

The plaintiff’s father was a maintenance worker for the defendant corporation, which operated several farms in the area. The plaintiff’s father reportedly worked six days a week, but was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to attend to any maintenance issues that arose at any of the defendant’s properties. The plaintiff’s father kept a toolbox in the pick-up truck, and was told by the defendant that he was expected to respond to any maintenance issue immediately. Thus, the employer allowed the plaintiff to use the pick-up truck for personal use.

After the accident, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that it was vicariously liable for his father’s negligence in causing the car accident. The defendant argued that it could not be held responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries because the plaintiff’s father was not acting within his scope as an employee of the defendant at the time because he was attending a family reunion.

The Court’s Opinion

The court concluded that under the unique facts presented in this case, the defendant could be held vicariously liable for an employee’s alleged negligence. The court explained that typically, an employer who provides a company vehicle would not be liable for injuries resulting from the employee’s personal use of that vehicle. However, where an employer provides an employee a vehicle and requires that the employee (and the vehicle) be on call 24/7, an employer may be vicariously liable.

Here, the court held that the plaintiff’s father was acting within the scope of his employment although it was undisputed that he was on his way to attend a personal function. The court noted that the plaintiff’s father was always on call, and was expected to respond to maintenance issues as soon as they arose. To that end, the plaintiff’s father kept a toolbox in the truck so that he could immediately respond no matter where he was, without the need to go back home to pick up the necessary tools. Thus, the court held that this case was factually distinct from other instances in which an employer was found not vicariously liable for an employee’s negligence that occurred while using a company car.

Have You Been Injured in a California Car Accident?

If you or someone close to you has recently been the victim of another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a California car accident lawsuit. Depending on the nature of your injuries, you may be able to recover amounts for your past and future medical expenses and lost wages, as well as compensation for the emotional pain and suffering you have been forced to endure. To learn more, call the dedicated Southern California injury attorneys at Sharifi Firm, APC, at 866-422-7222 to schedule a free consultation today.

See Related Posts:

California Plaintiffs Sue Breast Implant Manufacturers, California Injury Lawyer Blog, October 24, 2018.

California Court Dismisses Appeal Against Ski Resort for Snowboarding Accident, California Injury Lawyer Blog, November 29, 2018.

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