Court Applies Coming and Going Rule in Recent Car Accident Case Seeking to Hold Employer Liable

Recently, a state appellate court rejected a plaintiff’s claim against a defendant employer after the plaintiff was injured in an accident caused by one of the defendant’s employees while the employee was on his way home from work. The case presents an interesting issue for New Mexico car accident victims who were injured in an accident that was caused by someone who was on-the-job at the time of the accident.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was walking along the sidewalk when he was struck by a car that had just been hit by an employee who was attempting to turn into the post office on his way home from work. The employee was employed by the county, and while he was not required to have his own car, the realities of his position made having a car a near-necessity. This was because he had to visit various locations across several cities, and because public transportation was not a particularly convenient option based on where he lived. The employee did, however, occasionally take public transportation, and testified that he would have taken it more if it was more convenient.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the employee as well as the employer. The plaintiff’s argument was based on the theory of vicarious liability, under which an employer can normally be held liable for the negligent actions of an employee, if those actions are taken in the course of his employment.

The employer, however, argued that this case fit under the “coming-and-going” rule, which precludes employer liability for accidents occurring on an employee’s commute to and from work. The employer argued that the employee was not required by any work policy to use his own car, and was driving home at the time of the accident.

The Court’s Decision

The court agreed with the employer and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. The court explained that, here, the employee was not technically required to have a car to do his job. And although the employee commonly used his own car when he needed to leave his main office, the plaintiff did not use his car other than to commute to work on the day of the accident.

The court explained that employer liability is only appropriate when the employer requires an employee to maintain their own personal vehicle for work purposes, or keep a vehicle on-call for work purposes. Additionally, liability may be appropriate when the employer derives some other sort of benefit from the employee’s use of their own vehicle. Here, the court held that none of those situations were present and the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

Have You Been Injured in a New Mexico Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a New Mexico car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit. The dedicated attorneys at the Fine Law Firm have extensive experience assisting injury victims to successfully pursue claims for compensation against those responsible for their injuries in a wide variety of cases. To learn more and to speak with an attorney about your case, call 505-889-FINE to schedule a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court Enforces Clause in Residential Lease Agreement Limiting the Amount of Time the Tenant Had to File a Lawsuit, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 20, 2017.

Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s Gas Station Slip-and-Fall Case, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 6, 2018.