In the recent case of Newland v. County of Los Angeles (2018) WL 3017203, the 2nd District of the California Court of Appeal considered the “Vehicle use exception” to the “going and coming” rule of employees commuting to work. An employee’s commute to and from work is generally not considered to be within the course and scope of employment, and therefore an employer would not be liable for an accident occurring during the commute. However, if the employer requires the employee to bring their vehicle to work or receives a benefit from the employee’s commute at the time of the accident, the vehicle use exception would allow liability to include the employer.
In Newland, the Appellate Court considered the case of an L.A. County Public Defender who was involved in an accident on his commute home from work. The employee was required to drive his car to perform several of his job duties outside the office, including appearances in branch courts, visits to jails or crime scenes, and meeting witnesses. However, he did not have to perform these duties every day and knew in advance when his car would be needed. The employee performed no duties with the vehicle on the day of the accident. Thus, the Court held that since the employee’s car was not used to fulfill job duties or benefit the employer on the day of the accident, the vehicle use exception did not apply and the employer had no liability for the employee’s accident.
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