Determining liability in a company carpool accident can be a difficult task. Depending on the circumstances, the employee who was operating the vehicle at the time of the accident or the employer they work for can be held liable for the accident.
Employer’s Liability in a Company Carpool Accident
Generally, when an employee causes an accident and injures someone as a result of their negligence, the employer can be held financially liable for the resulting injuries and property damage – as long as the employee in question was on the job, acting within the scope of their employment, or was acting under the instructions of their employer at the time of the accident.
The legal doctrine that allows employers to be held vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their employees is called respondeat superior (let the master answer). It emerged in ancient Rome and has since been adopted by many countries – including the United States.
However, there is a notable exception to the doctrine of respondeat superior. Commonly referred to as the ‘coming and going rule’, it exempts employers from being held liable for their employees’ negligent actions – while the employees are coming to work and while they are returning home. In other words, an employer can be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees only as long as the employees are clocked in.
Employers in Georgia often tend to use the coming and going defense to deny liability for the negligent actions of their employees. However, this defense might not work in a company carpool accident claim under certain circumstances. These include:
- If the employer designates a particular employee to drive a group of employees to and from work and if they pay the employee an incentive or reward them through any other means, they cannot claim exemption from liability under the coming and going rule, since the coming and going part is also covered under the scope of the employee’s duties.
- If the employer asks a group of employees to use a company-owned vehicle for carpooling and incentivizes them for doing so, they might not be able to claim an exemption under the coming and going rule.
- If an employee runs a work-related errand – or runs a personal errand for their employer – while they are coming to work or while they are returning home, and if they cause an accident, the employer can be held liable for the injuries and property damage resulting from the accident.
Employee’s Liability in a Company Carpool Accident
There are certain circumstances where the employer might be able to deny liability for the at-fault employee’s actions using the coming and going exemption. These include:
- If an employee chooses to drive a group of his coworkers to and from work of their own volition and if they use their own vehicle, they can be personally held liable for any accidents they cause.
- If a group of employees chooses to carpool to reduce their transportation costs if they take turns to drive the group to and from work every day, and if one of them causes an accident one day, that particular employee can be held liable for their actions.
Why You Need an Experienced Georgia Personal Injury Attorney to Handle a Carpool Accident Claim
When it comes to company carpool accidents, employers almost always tend to deny liability and try to pin the blame entirely on the negligent employee who caused the accident. Only a solid Georgia personal injury attorney can investigate the case and determine who can be held liable.
Moreover, whoever the at-fault party might be, you can be sure that their insurance provider might try to argue that your own negligence contributed to the accident to a certain degree and that you can be partly blamed for what happened. They make this argument knowing that if you are found to be at fault, your compensation will be reduced in proportion to the extent to which your own negligence contributed to the accident.
For instance, if you are found to be at 40% fault, your compensation will be reduced by 40%. If they manage to establish that you were at 50% at fault, you will not be able to receive any compensation. This is why it is extremely important for you to be represented by a skilled Georgia personal injury lawyer who can establish the other party’s liability and help you acquire the settlement you deserve.
Injured in a Company Carpool Accident? Our Georgia Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help You!
If you have been injured in a carpool accident and are not sure who can be held liable, the committed Georgia personal injury attorneys at Stein & Fox can help you. With over 40 years of experience, a first-rate legal team, and a large network of third-party experts, our firm is best suited to handle your claim and can deliver results that most other firms cannot.
To discuss your case with one of our reliable and seasoned Georgia personal injury lawyers, call us today at 770-961-1700 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation.