Woodland Hills Personal Injury Attorney Barry P. Goldberg is always looking for sources of additional recovery in all serious motor vehicle accident cases because most negligent drivers simply do not carry enough liability insurance. One way to obtain a much larger insurance policy is to inquire whether the at-fault driver’s employer is liable under the doctrine of “Respondeat Superior.” Was the vehicle used for work?
In a case decided on October 25, 2016, The California Court of Appeal for the 5th District held that the “going and coming” rule barred application of the employer liability doctrine in Pierson v. Helmerich & Payne Int’l Drilling Co. In that case, an oil rig worker caused an accident driving home after work and while providing two other employees with a ride to their employer-paid hotel. The seriously injured plaintiff contended, among other things, that the employer derived an “incidental benefit” from the ridesharing arrangements of its employees who had to commute to the employer-paid hotel. The Court disagreed and found that the “going and coming” rule applied and that employees traveling to and from work are considered outside the scope of employment and, therefore, the employer was not liable for torts committed during the employee’s commute.
GOING AND COMING RULE
The Court explained that the “doctrine of respondeat superior holds an employer liable for torts of its employees committed within the scope of their employment. (Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. v. Department of Transportation (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 87, 93-94 (Halliburton).) Thus, a plaintiff suing an employer under the doctrine must prove that the tort was committed within the scope of employment. (Id. at p. 94.)”
Further, the Court pointed out that a “corollary of the doctrine of respondeat superior is the ‘going and coming rule,’ which states that employees do not act within the scope of employment while going to or coming from the workplace. (Jeewarat v. Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 427, 435 (Jeewarat).) The rationale for the rule is that the employment relationship is suspended from the time the employee leaves work until he or she returns because an employee ordinarily renders no service to the employer while traveling.”
Commute from Paid Hotel to Jobsite Subject to “Going and Coming” Rule
The Plaintiff contended that triable issues of fact existed as to one of the many exceptions to the “going and coming” rule—1. Vehicle-Use Exception, 2. Required-Vehicle Exception, 3. Incidental Benefit Exception, 4. Special Errand Exception. In an exhaustive analysis, the Court found that none of the exceptions applied as a matter of law to the circumstance presented.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious motor vehicle accident it is critical to hire an experienced personal injury attorney that can conduct a sufficient investigation to determine if the at fault driver could somehow legally be considered in the course and scope of his or her employment.