If you are told by your employer to depart from work early so you can take some parcels to the post office, and you are involved in an auto crash and you injure someone, your employer could be held liable for any injuries you have caused. This sort of accident in Mississippi comes under the vicarious liability theory.
What is vicarious liability?
Respondeat superior in Latin means “Let superiors answer.” It is typically referred to as vicarious liability and is applicable in circumstances when a single person is held liable for any damages due to the negligence of someone else. It is used for employers who are responsible for any negligent act committed by an employee. This includes Mississippi employers’ responsibility for any auto accidents that take place due to their employees’ negligence when the employees have been asked to use their personal auto for business reasons.
If you decide to agree to a request made by your employer to take some parcels to the post office and you have a devastating auto accident on the way, you are most likely acting within the capacity of your employment because your employer appears to be benefiting from what you are doing by taking the business’s parcels to the post office in your own motor vehicle. You are classified as being at work. However, if you dropped the parcels off and then called into a restaurant for dinner and are by that time on your way home when an accident takes place, driving home after you have had dinner will have been of no benefit to your employer and by that time you were no longer at work so your employer is unlikely to be held liable for the accident that took place.
What will happen if you reverse into another auto and your auto is damaged on your company’s property? Or you were driving to a meeting at a different location as part of your work and you have an accident which isn’t serious?
This scenario does depend on certain factors. Typically, your employer isn’t liable for any bad accident you may have when you are going to and from work. However, if your job description requires you to stop on the way to work to do any of the following your employer could be liable:
- inspect a job site;
- pick up some office supplies for the workplace;
- arrange a sales call;
- participate in any other activity directly related to the business.
Your employer could be held liable if you are negligent and cause an auto accident. However, if you stop somewhere to collect a good you have ordered from a store and you have an accident either on your way to the store or after you have left the premises this situation doesn’t have an easy answer. Both the insurers and the personal injury lawyers will be evaluating any key facts and the circumstances involved. It might be necessary for a trial to be held so that in the end the correct decision is reached regarding eligibility for personal injury compensation.
There are a couple of considerations that employees should think about when driving to work. The first is a personal auto insurance policy may not cover the policy holder if car owners intend to use their vehicles for business purposes. This means no insurance cover is valid if an employee uses his/her car to transport any goods or personnel for his employer. So if an accident takes place the employer should be asked to pay any damages and personal injury compensation.
An employer may have cover for its employees who use their motor vehicles for business reasons, but it’s not necessarily automatic. Employees should check with their employers to be certain coverage is current before ever agreeing to use their auto for any business purposes.
See a car accident attorney at the Diaz Law Firm in Jackson to discuss a possible personal injury claim. You may have grounds to claim compensation. The Diaz Law Firm can be contacted at 601-607-3456.