Who’s doing the driving?

FedEx_Ground_van_Memphis_TN_019

The law is sometimes alarmingly easy to understand and then sometimes quite challenging. The idea of vicarious liability says that when someone employs another to do work, the employer is legally responsible for everything the employee does during the course of that work. So if an employee is driving on employer business during the working day, you sue the employer if the employee crashes into you. But if the person who’s doing the driving is an independent contractor, you sue him or her directly. The news out of California for FedEx is not so good this morning. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just decided 2,300 people working as drivers are employees. This is very bad for FedEx because not only does it now face a big claim from all its new employees, but everyone who was injured by a FedEx driver in California can now sue FedEx to recover damages. This is worth doing because FedEx has a lot more money than mere subcontractors.

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