Shadley on Fleet Safety: ‘A Question of Liability’

By Randy Shadley, CAFM, ProFleet Solu­tions, LLC

Ques­tion: What do Yogurt, Yoga, and Your lia­bil­i­ty have in com­mon?

Answer:  They are all relat­ed to a Cal­i­for­nia Court of Appeal rul­ing (Mora­di v Marsh USA), where the insur­ance com­pa­ny, Marsh USA, Inc.,  was found to be liable for dam­ages when one of its employ­ees — who reg­u­lar­ly used her per­son­al vehi­cle for com­pa­ny busi­ness — was involved in a crash after work on per­son­al time, while head­ed for frozen yogurt on the way to a yoga class in her per­son­al car.

You read that right: per­son­al car, per­son­al time, per­son­al errands after work, employ­er respon­si­ble for dam­ages. Not for dam­ages to the employee’s car, mind you, but dam­ages to the third par­ty. This rul­ing, hand­ed down last Sep­tem­ber, chal­lenged the pre­vi­ous – and well estab­lished – under­stand­ing that employ­ers were not respon­si­ble for the “com­ings and goings” of employ­ees’ dur­ing their com­mutes.

Why is a crash in an employ­ee-pro­vid­ed vehi­cle impor­tant to fleet man­agers?
I hope you are already involved in your employer’s poli­cies regard­ing not just fleet vehi­cles, but any and all vehi­cles used for com­pa­ny busi­ness. This includes Auto Allowance pro­grams, per-mile reim­burse­ment for busi­ness use of per­son­al vehi­cles, vehi­cles rent­ed while on busi­ness trav­el, and vehi­cles rent­ed for use while a com­pa­ny vehi­cle is out of ser­vice. If you are not already involved with those “non-fleet” vehi­cles I encour­age you to step up and use your fleet exper­tise to ben­e­fit your employ­er in these oth­er, relat­ed areas.

As evi­denced by the “Mora­di v Marsh” deci­sion, courts are increas­ing­ly rul­ing that non-fleet vehi­cle dri­vers are, or should be, gov­erned by the same stan­dards, poli­cies, and prac­tices that apply to fleet dri­vers. What a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to show (and increase!) your val­ue to man­age­ment.

I hope you’ll stay tuned to this col­umn and share your thoughts with me. Call me at (303) 472 – 2227 if you’d like to talk about these or any oth­er relat­ed top­ics.


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