An employer may be held vicariously liable for the negligence of its employees in a Washington automobile accident case when the employees are acting within the scope of their employment. An employee is acting within the scope of employment when engaged in the performance of duties required or directed by the employer or engaged in the furtherance of the employer’s interest. An employee is not acting within the scope of employment when engaged in conduct involving a personal objective that is not related to the employer’s business. The issue of vicarious liability was recently before a Washington appeals court.
The defendant driver failed to stop in time to avoid rear-ending the plaintiff’s stopped vehicle. The defendant driver works as a regional manager for the defendant employer. He works from his home and frequently travels for his job. The defendant employer provides him with a monthly vehicle allowance for the cost of his vehicle and insurance. The defendant employer also reimburses 80% of his vehicle maintenance and operation expenses. The defendant driver did not tell his employer about the accident.
The plaintiffs sued the defendant driver and he admitted liability for the accident. The defendant employer was subsequently added to the lawsuit, and the plaintiffs ultimately added a vicarious liability claim against it. The defendant driver testified in his deposition that he was driving home after working at the time of the accident.