Are you providing transportation for employee’s with work-related illnesses?
If an employee feels ill or is impaired in any way, it is best not to allow them to drive home from work. Why? You could be found liable for any accident they cause!
An important court ruling throws out the conventional wisdom that says companies aren’t liable for employees’ actions during their typical commute. This ruling says that if an employee can show the job contributed to the accident, your company can be held liable.
What should we do?
Pay attention to any illness or injury complaints that could be related to work. Be proactive. For employee compensation, provide transportation to medical care or to home. Do the same in other cases in which driving might be impaired, such as after late-night work or where alcohol has been served. The cab fare will be a bargain next to defending a lawsuit.
The day after a company sprayed its factory for bugs, an employee complained that she felt ill at work. A supervisor offered to send her to the company doctor, but she declined. While driving home, she rear-ended another car. She told police she felt lightheaded before the accident.
The person in the other car sued the company for her injuries. An appeals court let the case go to trial.
Reason? Companies are usually liable for injuries caused by employees only when the employee is “acting within the course of employment.”
But an exception exists: If the company could have foreseen a potential risk and didn’t stop it, it can be held liable for the resulting injuries (Bussard v. Minimed Inc.).