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What Happens When a Moonlighting Driver Causes a Fleet Vehicle Accident?

What Happens When a Moonlighting Driver Causes a Fleet Vehicle Accident?

What happens when a moonlighting driver causes a fleet vehicle accident? Who is liable for the personal injuries, wrongful deaths, and property damage these accidents can cause? Moonlighting is common, and few employment contracts prohibit the practice. However, that doesn't mean employees are allowed to use fleet vehicles for their moonlighting activities. When they do, and they cause a fleet vehicle accident, they can lose their job, and the employer can be found liable for negligently facilitating the crash.

Moonlighting in the United States

Prior to February 2020, moonlighting jobs in the United States were steady at around three per 100 full-time workers and 1.5 per 100 for people with part-time jobs. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a sharp drop in these rates and by the end of 2020, the rate of full-time workers with a moonlighting job dropped to 2.58 per 100, and the rate of part-time workers moonlighting dropped to 1.10 per 100 workers. In all, about 3% of workers in the US hold down a full-time and part-time "moonlighting" job.

However, despite the 2020 drops, likely due to the pandemic and shaky economy, it is a sure bet that this trend will continue to climb throughout 2021 as the economic recovery slowly builds traction and people struggle to make ends meet.

Common moonlighting jobs in the United States include driving delivery vehicles or operating a rideshare. Both of these jobs require considerable focus, skill, and concentration. For individuals working multiple jobs, it is common for them to engage in this moonlighting gig while they are tired, easily distracted, and prone to drowsy driving.

Liability for Crashes

Most companies have specific policies that prohibit the use of company vehicles for moonlighting activities. Thus, drivers who use the company car or truck to make deliveries or transport passengers break their employment contract when they do this. When a fleet vehicle accident occurs involving a moonlighting employee, the employer can be held liable under the doctrine of vicarious liability or negligent entrustment. Indeed, the principle of respondeat superior means that the first party to consider as liable for an accident is the fleet vehicle operator.

That's why the most common defense put forth by fleet operators following a fleet vehicle accident involving a moonlighting driver is that their prohibition from using the vehicle for non-work related business releases them from liability. However, they are not released from liability if the accident occurred while the driver was leaving or heading into work to engage in work-related business.

For this reason, many employers are using GPS and other technologies to establish geofences around their vehicles. When a fleet vehicle leaves the fenced area during hours when it is supposed to be parked, the device logs the breach and sends an alert to management.

Contact Brad Pistotnik Law at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. Brad Pistotnik is a motor vehicle accident attorney in Kansas. We represent individuals injured in a fleet vehicle accident. Our firm represents individuals pursuing personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas. It is our pleasure to schedule a free consultation to discuss a claim against your employer. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can reach Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237.