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What is the Going and Coming Issue Relating to a Business Owner’s Liability

Going and Coming Issue Relating to a Business Owner's Liability

What is the going and coming issue relating to a business owner’s liability?  Is the owner of a business responsible if their employee causes injuries while driving to or from work in a company car?

A recent case, Fields vs. State of California, discussed the “going and coming” rule as it relates to an employer’s responsibility/liability for the negligent driving of an employee.  You may or may not know it, but when an employee is commuting to and from work and gets in an accident, the employer is not responsible for that employee’s negligence.  However, if that employee is running an errand for his/her employer or if there is an incidental benefit involved for the employer then the employer can be held liable.

My name is Rivers Morrell and after more than 40 years of experience in motor vehicle accident and injury cases I can tell you there are often many sources we must explore to ensure our clients receive full and fair compensation for their injuries.

In many cases, the responsible driver does not have enough insurance to cover the damages that were caused by a driver’s negligence.  Frequently, if not often, we must look for others who may be legally responsible for the driver’s negligence as well as additional sources of compensation.  We will always look to the owner of the vehicle and it may reveal the driver was in the course and scope of his employment when the accident occurred.

In the Fields vs. State of California case, the driver was a prison employee.  She was injured on the job, and was receiving workers compensation benefits.  She was going to her workers comp doctor for treatment.  She was returning to work from one of her appointments when she injured someone while she was driving and sought to hold her employer, the State of California, responsible.

This is why understanding the going and coming issue relating to a business owner’s liability is so important.  The court discussed the various exceptions to the rule that precludes holding the employer responsible.  First, if the “commuting” involves an “incidental benefit” to the employer then the employer can be held responsible as an exception to the “going and coming” rule.  Here, there was no “incidental benefit” to the prison, her employer.   Second, if the employee is running a “special errand” for the employer, then the employer can be held responsible.  In this the prison employee was not running a special errand for the prison, and therefore the State of California was not responsible.

While the injured party in this case could not pursue an injury claim against her employer, the going and coming issue relating to a business owner’s liability is a common defense in car accidents resulting in injury.  We are often able to prove the employer was receiving an incidental benefit and increase the available insurance coverage in order to maximize the full and fair compensation our clients deserve.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident I invite you to review the strong recommendations of our clients and the legal industry and contact us or call 949-305-1400 to speak with me personally for a free consultation.  There is no cost to you out of pocket as we work on a contingency fee basis.

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