Tell drivers: No passengers allowed on trips that cross state lines — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Tell drivers: No passengers allowed on trips that cross state lines

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Does your company employ drivers who cross state lines? If so, make sure they understand they cannot take passengers with them.

Here’s why: In the event of an accident, the rider may sue, alleging that since the company allowed her to ride along, the company is responsible for any injuries caused by the driver’s negligence. And the law that applies may be the law of the state in which the accident occurred.

It’s almost impossible to craft a policy that takes into account several states’ laws. Therefore, the best approach may be to write the most restrictive rule you can. If no one can ride along—and you enforce that rule when an employee breaks it—you may not be liable.

Recent case: Julie Beardsley’s husband worked for Farmland Co-Op, a Colorado company. Beardsley talked her husband into allowing her to ride along in his truck one winter night. Sometime after midnight, near their destination in Cheyenne, Wyo., Beardsley’s husband lost control of the truck. The accident severely injured them both.

Beardsley sued Farmland, alleging that it was vicariously liable for her husband’s negligence. The court applied Wyoming law, which says an employer isn’t liable for injuries to an uninvited guest. It reasoned that Farmland had strict rules against allowing passengers, so Beardsley was an uninvited guest. (Beardsley v. Farmland Co-op, No. 06-8062, 10th Cir., 2008)

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