Crashes involving workers on the job are fairly common, given that so many people drive as part of their employment. People injured in such crashes need to seek immediate legal counsel because there may be multiple avenues of financial recovery, and a careful legal strategy is crucial.
In one recent case before the California Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District, a plaintiff was left empty-handed after a lengthy legal battle that involved both litigation and arbitration.
Here, the at-fault driver was operating a work van owned by her employer, which she used for both business and personal purposes. The trial court found that the employer wasn’t vicariously liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because the defendant was not acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of the crash. The plaintiff then went through the arbitration process with the defendant driver and was awarded $500,000. However, when the plaintiff sought payment of this amount from the defendant’s personal auto insurer, the insurer refused. The plaintiff then filed another lawsuit, this one against the insurer, alleging breach of contract and bad faith. However, since the insured/driver was allowed to use the van for both personal and business purposes, the court ruled her personal use of the van wasn’t a departure from the customary use of the vehicle, and therefore her personal insurer didn’t have to pay.