Who Is Liable in a Company Carpool Accident?
Carpooling, also known as ridesharing, is an arrangement between a group of people to commute together in one single car. Over the past few years, this has become a very familiar concept due to the convenience that it offers for people who want to travel to the same place.
It is being used for a variety of different purposes, including routine travel, getting your children to school, or most commonly, going to work with your colleagues. Carpooling is among the most economical ways for employees of the same company to travel to work every day.
A lot of companies have been taking advantage of this opportunity to improve their rates of recruitment and retention of employees through the promotion and incentivization of carpooling.
These programs help to reduce the employees’ daily expenses such as fuel and car maintenance, helping to ease the struggle of driving to work every morning, while also giving them an environment to connect and get to know each other better. This has also been proven to reduce employee stress and thus boost their work rate and productivity.
Companies have now adopted different ways to encourage their employees to participate in carpool programs such as offering ridesharing drivers discounts on their parking fees. Some companies have also turned this into an intra-company competition where the people with the greatest number of miles traveled while carpooling, get certain prizes. Even though it is very beneficial, it can also make a business vulnerable to liabilities.
Case Study Depicting Employer Liability
An example of this can be seen through a case from the Texas Supreme Court, Painter v Amerimex Drilling Ltd.
In this case, Amerimex Drilling had been contracted to drill wells in Texas and was providing accommodation for their crew members located a few miles away from the drilling site. The company had given an incentive of $50 per day to the driller to drive the crew from their place of accommodation to the drilling site and back.
On one of these trips, they were met with an accident resulting in the death of two of the crew members and injuries to the driver and another crew member. The parties then sued the company, claiming that they were the ones liable for the damage caused.
In this case, the court cited evidence that transporting himself and the other workers to and from the place of work was a part of the duties given to him by his employer and thus the company was held liable.
The Doctrine of Respondeat Superior and the Coming and Going Rule
The Doctrine of Respondeat Superior underscores the liability of an employer for the actions of their employee, provided that the actions take place within the scope of employment. People who may have been injured in a car accident can hold their employer responsible if the car is being driven by a company employee on company time.
Even if the accident has been caused due to the negligence of the driver, if a plaintiff shows that at the time of the negligent conduct, the worker was an employee and was acting in the scope of their employment, the company will be held liable.
The Coming and Going Rule acts as an exception to this doctrine. It states that an employer will not be considered responsible for the actions of an employee while the employee is not on company time such as coming to work or going home from work, hence the name.
This rule may also not apply if they are driving a car issued to them by the company, traveling to or from different job sites, or are doing some special tasks given to them by their employer.
Ways to Avoid Liability for Employers
In order to avoid liability, a company can decide to draft and form contracts that would exempt itself from liability in case there are any injuries or deaths caused due to accidents. This is a good option, but if any such case reaches the appellate courts, there is a possibility that the contracts would not even matter.
The safest route to take for a company in order to avoid such liability is to avoid offering any incentives such as discounts or reimbursements for ridesharing. Even though company carpooling is a salient idea due to its economic and environmental benefits, employers will be wise to take a step back in encouraging and promoting it so that they are not vulnerable to any liability.
Legal Help for You as an Injured Passenger in a Mississippi Car Crash
The aftermath of a car accident, with its medical, financial, and legal implications, can prove to be complicated and distressing. The reputable auto accident attorneys at Gardner Law Firm are here to help you make sense of the situation. Our lawyers can help you recover rightful compensation if you are legally entitled to it.
If you are an injured passenger from a car wreck, speak to a lawyer at the Gardner Law Firm in Biloxi, Pascagoula, and Hattiesburg. Contact us online, or call us at 228-436-6555 to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.