On appeal, the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court decision, and decided the jury could find the employer liable for the employee’s negligence. The employee’s job required him to meet with customers in person and when he did, he was reimbursed for costs associated with mileage for his car. Though the employee used his personal car, and the use was minimal, the court found evidence showing Tamco required the employee to have his car when necessary for customer visits. Tamco benefited from the employee making his car accessible and because of that, a jury could find Tamco liable for the employee’s negligent driving under a required vehicle exception.
The Lobo decision reminds employers to be careful about an employee’s use of personal cars for work, and should look over job descriptions and employee policies involving a personal car use. Employers need to be aware of becoming liable for car accidents if there is an expectation the employee may use a personal car for work. This includes liability for driving to and from work. If the employer receives a benefit from a car being accessible, the plaintiff should review employer insurance policies to see if the employee’s drive to and from work is covered by insurance.
If struck with a personal injury in Hawaii, engage an experienced accident lawyer who understands vicarious liability.