Car Accident Commuting Work Responsible

Car Accident Commuting to Work, Who’s Responsible?

Ralph Curtis Blog

What time of day do you suppose accounts for more auto accidents than any other?  When are Sacramento streets most congested?  When are people in Stockton or Modesto most likely hurrying to get somewhere?   Right: The daily commute to and from work. 

Because more people are out on the roads in the early morning or evening hours, car crashes are more likely to happen.   When they do happen, and car accident injuries result, we at Curtis Legal Group work hard to obtain all the compensation our clients deserve.   One way we do that is to make sure we have located all the insurance policies that may provide coverage for the negligent party that caused the accident. 

Frequently, drivers, these days have small auto insurance policies (if they have a policy at all.)  The minimum coverage required by California law is $15,000 for any one person injured in an accident and $30,000 for all persons injured, no matter how many.  These limits are way too low these days when the cost of an emergency room visit alone might be more.  So, one of our jobs for our clients is to look for other coverage. 

One source of additional coverage sometimes is the negligent driver’s employer.  If that driver was on an errand for their employer at the time of the accident, they may be found to be in the “course and scope” of their employment.  If so, the employer’s insurance coverage will apply as well as the employee’s policy.  

What if the employee was just on their way to work or on their way home?  Will the employer’s insurance apply?  The answer is generally no, because during their commute, the employee is not providing any service for the employer.  However, there are exceptions and determining if any of those exceptions applies requires some legal work.  The following situations should be addressed.

One exception that may apply is based on whether the employer required the employee’s vehicle to be available to use for the employer’s purposes during the workday.  For example, if the employer required the employee to have his or her car on the job so that the employee could run errands for the employer from time to time, the employer’s insurance policy could apply to an accident caused by the employee during the commute.  Some courts have narrowed this exception by saying that the employee’s car had to actually be used for job duties on the day of the accident, not just generally available.  This is an area that should be investigated. 

Another exception that could apply would be if the employee was required to perform work away from the usual workplace and then was driving home after doing so.  For example, if the employer required an employee to attend an off-site meeting and the employee then caused an accident while going home from the meeting, the employer’s insurance would likely come into play. 

Another situation where an employee could be said to be “on the job” at the time of the accident, triggering the employer’s insurance coverage, would be where the employee was on the way to work but actively engaged in a work-related phone call at the time he or she caused the accident.  In that situation, it could be said that the employee was actually “at work” when the accident happened. 

These are just a few examples of how diligent legal work can result in big benefits to clients.  When our clients suffer serious injuries, it is up to us to help them get all the compensation they need and deserve.

If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, attorneys at Curtis Legal Group can help you.  Give us a call; we’ll be happy to talk with you.   1-800-LAW-3080.