Recently, an appellate court issued an opinion in a car accident case that raised an interesting issue that frequently comes up in Florida car accident cases. The case involved an accident between an employee who was on his way home from work and the plaintiff. The plaintiff attempted to hold the employee’s employer liable for his injuries under the theory of vicarious liability. However, the court rejected the plaintiff’s claim based on the “coming-and-going” rule.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was walking along the sidewalk when he was struck by a vehicle that had just been hit by another car that was being driven by a county public defender (the “employee”). The employee was on his way home from work at the time of the accident.
The employee worked for the county, which did not officially require that the employee have his own car. However, the employee’s job required that he go to numerous courthouses, visit clients in prison, and go to crime scenes in various cities. Thus, essentially, the job would not be possible without a car.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the employee and the county. The plaintiff argued that the accident occurred during the scope of the employee’s employment because he was essentially required to have a car. The county argued that, while the employee did frequently use his car for work reasons, he did not do so on that day.
The Court’s Decision
The court held that this case fit under the “coming-and-going” rule. Under the coming-and going rule, an employer cannot be held liable for an accident that occurs during an employee’s regular commute to or from work. The court acknowledged that there is an exception when the employer requires an employee to maintain their own personal vehicle for work reasons, or derives some other benefit from the employee’s use of their own car. However, the court determined that neither of those situations applied here.
The court distinguished this case from one where the employer official required an employee to have their own car on the basis that in this case, the employee would occasionally take public transportation when it was convenient. Indeed, the court noted that the employee would have taken it more often had he lived closer to a station. Essentially, the court seemed concerned with broadly exposing employers to liability in situations where an employee does not officially need their own car, but the real-life practicalities of the job essentially require it.
Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida car accident, the attorney at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank can help. At Friedman Rodman & Frank, we represent injury victims in all types of Florida personal injury claims, including those car accidents caused by negligent employees. With decades of experience handling Florida personal injury cases, we know what it takes to succeed on behalf of our clients. We aggressively represent our clients’ interests throughout the process, while dutifully keeping them informed. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Accident Victim’s Failure to Provide Immediate Notice of Case May Preclude Recovery, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published June 19, 2017.
Court Limits Employer’s Duty in Recent Case Stemming from Pedestrian-Railroad Fatality, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published July 5, 2018.