Who is Liable for the Accident Caused by an On-Call Employee in California?

Like other states, California has strict laws when dealing with road accidents. Tortfeasors must pay for any injuries or damages caused to victims (or their property) in the road accident for which they’re at fault for. Furthermore, they must also face any additional penalties that the court may decide to impose on them.

In a case where the accident is caused by a person who is working and was acting within the scope of their job when the accident happened, the California law assigns the liability to the company for which the person is working for. If, however, the at-fault employee wasn’t acting within the scope of their job when the accident occurred, and was merely driving to or from work for example, they must pay for the damages.

What about the scenario where an on-call employee is driving the employer-provided vehicle after work hours and commits an accident? Who assumes the liability in that case?

In such cases, it is once again the employer who’d assume the liability for the accident. This is because on-call employees are required to drive the company vehicle at all times to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As such, if they commit an accident, they’re considered to be acting in the scope and course of their employment, making the employer responsible for their on-road exploits.

A case revisited

We can find an example of this from a few years back, where the California courts explored a situation in which an on-call employee was guilty of a road accident.

The details of the case go something like this…

Ernesto Moreno Lopez, an on-call employee at Visser Ranch, was returning from his brother’s house in Moreno Valley after a family gathering. He was driving the company truck. His son, Ray David Moreno, the plaintiff, was riding with him as a passenger. Unaware of the ongoing construction work ahead, Lopez lost control of the vehicle and it overturned. David, who wasn’t wearing the seatbelt, was seriously injured in the accident.

Later, David filed a case against Visser Ranch, Graceland Diary and General Motors, in which he alleged that Visser Ranch and Graceland Diary were liable to pay for his losses under the doctrine of respondeat superior.

Initially David lost the case, but after re-filing it at the California Court of Appeals; he was able to turn the judgment in his favor.

David had only one argument, and that was, his father was acting in his scope and course of job when the accident happened. He was required to drive the truck because of the nature of his job, and therefore, he must be compensated by his father’s employers.

Have you been injured in a road accident caused by an on-call employee?

Reach out to our experienced California personal injury attorneys to discuss your case and learn how to obtain an outcome in your favor.



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