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Lynn v. Tatitlek Support (2-22-17)

The Court held that an employer is not liable for injuries caused by an employee’s auto accident on a commute under the going and coming rule.  The plaintiff argued that the exceptions to the going and coming rule should apply, namely, the Incidental Benefit exception and the Work-Related Special Risk exception.  Under the Incidental Benefit exception, an employer may be liable for accidents during a commute if the employer is getting a benefit from the commute itself.  For example, if the employee is taking work calls during the commute, or if the employee is bringing his car to work to use for work purposes.  The court held that this exception did not apply because the employee was free to commute any way he wanted, the employer was not using the employee’s car for work purposes, the employer was not paying the employee for commuting time or expenses, and the employee was doing no work during the commute.  Under the Work-Related Special Risk exception, the employer may be liable if the employee endangers others with a risk related to his work for the employer.  For example, if the employer serves alcohol at a work party, and the employee has an accident on the drive home, the employer may be liable.  The plaintiff argued that the nature of the work caused the employee to be very fatigued, and that lead to the accident.  The court held that this was not good enough to utilize the Work-Related Special Risk exception.  Thus, to avoid liability for employee accidents during commuting time: (i) don’t require them to drive their own car to work, (ii) don’t allow them to make business calls during commute, and (iii) don’t provide alcohol to employees at a work party, meeting, etc.

–Adam K. Treiger