We’ve been looking in recent posts at the issue of vicarious liability in the context of motor vehicle accidents involving employees and independent contractors. Last time, we looked particularly at the foreseeability and scope of employment requirements. As we noted, the key question with scope of employment is whether the employee was doing the employer’s work at the time of the accident.
There are a variety of factors courts consider when determining whether an employee was acting within the scope of employment. These factors include, first of all, the time, place and location of the act. In the context of a motor vehicle crash, the court would be looking for where and when the crash occurred. Did it occur on the employer’s premises or on a job site? Did the crash occur before, during or after working hours? These and other such questions are important to consider.
Another factor is the actual relationship between the employer and employee and how this relates to the employee’s work duties. If the worker’s job description or contract doesn’t include certain activities, but is an established agreement that the employee engages in those activities, the latter may be considered within the scope of employment for purposes of vicarious liability. In cases where the employee did not perform his or her duties as directed or as they are ordinarily performed, courts will also consider the extent of the departure and whether any wrongdoing that caused injury could have been reasonably anticipated by the employer.
In motor vehicle accidents caused by employees, all of these factors are important to consider, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. In situations where the employer had a role to play in the employee’s accident, the accident victim can and should be able to hold the employer accountable. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help ensure that an accident victim’s rights are protected and that he or she has the best opportunity to seek fair compensation.
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