People who drive as part of their work duties sometimes get into accidents. For the employee who is injured in an accident, the primary concern will be whether the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will cover expenses. When a working driver is responsible for an accident, people who are injured may have a legal claim against the driver’s employer under a theory of vicarious liability.
Employees injured while driving for work are entitled to workers’ compensation coverage
Nevada’s industrial insurance law provides that all employees are insured for injuries arising in the course and scope of their employment. An accident that occurs while someone is working—for example, while driving a delivery truck—clearly falls within this rule. The rule also covers driving in some other, “off the clock” situations. An employee will be covered while driving in circumstances where he or she would not otherwise have been driving but for a work obligation, like a special errand, off-site business meeting, or client visit. Bob Allyn Masonry v. Murphy, 124 Nev. 279 (2008). The question is not whether the driving time is paid, but rather whether it is to fulfill an obligation to the employer.
A workers’ comp insurer will undoubtedly examine the facts of an accident to verify that the driver was actually working at the time, or otherwise entitled to coverage. Ordinary commuting is not covered by workers’ comp. Employees can venture into a grey area by taking side trips or attending to personal matters. For example, if after running a special errand for an employer the employee then drives to the mall to see a movie, there comes a point in the trip where the employer connection ceases.
Injured third parties can sue the employer in many circumstances
Nevada law provides that an employer bears legal liability for the tortious behavior of its employees provided that certain basic elements are met. The employee must have been under the employer’s control and acting in the scope of the employee’s job at the time of the accident. NRS 41.130. This issue looks at similar facts to those considered by the workers’ comp question. For example, an employee who isn’t acting within the scope of employment, such as on an ordinary commute, can’t ordinarily create liability for the employer. Kornton v. Conrad, Inc., 119 Nev. 123 (2003). There need to be sufficient facts to show that the employee was driving while doing something on behalf of the employer.
Intentional acts are an important exception to the employer liability rule. Employers are not responsible for independent, intentional conduct of employees that was not committed in the course of a task the employer assigned to the employee and was not reasonably foreseeable under the circumstances. NRS 41.745. This rule probably doesn’t free an employer from liability for an employee’s act of road rage. But if an employee used an employer’s car to commit a hate crime, the statute might apply. See Wood v. Safeway, Inc., 121 Nev. 724 (2005).
Talk to a personal injury lawyer after an accident
After any accident involving personal injury it’s important to talk to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in car crash cases. If you have questions about your legal options after being injured by someone who was driving for work, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.