How Vicarious Liability Affects A California Personal Injury Claim

vicarious liability

In most cases, we are only legally responsible for our own actions. But under vicarious liability, some parties can be held responsible for an injury they did not cause directly. In California, vicarious liability can play a role in some personal injury claims. If you have questions about vicarious liability after reading this article, our Glendale personal injury attorneys at Ourfalian & Ourfalian can help you.

What Is Vicarious Liability Under California Law?

Under California law, vicarious liability refers to holding someone responsible for the negligent actions of another person or entity. Vicarious liability in California may apply in the following relationships:

Employer And Employee

The employer may be liable for their employee’s negligent actions, referred to in California as the respondeat superior law. In addition, the employer may be held liable when the employee’s actions that caused the injury happened when the worker was operating within the scope of his employment. This means that the worker must have been engaged in an activity that was reasonably expected by the company, regardless of whether the actions were a routine part of the worker’s job.

For example, suppose you are hit at a red light by a flower delivery driver. The driver was making a delivery in Glendale at Glendale Galleria or the Museum of Neon Art. If the employee was acting within the scope of his employment when the crash occurred, his employer could be held vicariously liable for his negligent actions.

This could be important because businesses usually carry commercial insurance policies with higher coverage limits. For example, if you have been seriously hurt in an accident and require surgery and months of rehabilitation, you could need more compensation to get your life back on track.

However, if the flower delivery driver was on his lunch break and hit you, his employer may not be liable for the driver’s actions, depending on the circumstances. If you are in a similar situation, a Glendale personal injury attorney should review the case promptly.

Principal And Agent

The principal can be held vicariously liable for the negligent actions of partners, agents, joint venture members, and sometimes, independent contractors. The principal could be a person or a company. Liability would belong to the principal for actions that were within the scope of the partner’s or agent’s duties and ability to act for the principal.

Parent And Child

In some personal injury cases, the laws of California hold parents liable for the negligent actions of their children. The parent could be held vicariously liable for a child’s actions in these situations:

  • The child was engaged in willful misconduct.
  • The child drove the parent’s car and injured someone because of their negligent actions.
  • The parent allowed their child to use a gun, and they injured someone.

When Is An Employee On The Clock?

Most California accidents involving the legal concept of vicarious liability involve employer and employee relationships. As noted above, employers are not responsible for an employee’s negligent actions when they are not on the clock. However, when an accident involves an employee injuring someone, you can expect intense debates about whether the person was on or off the clock when the accident occurred.

Many legal disputes arise when a worker drives to or from the office, to or from a social gathering, or blends a personal errand with their work-related duties. To resolve these matters, California courts have devised rules governing these cases:

Work Commutes

California has a ‘coming and going rule’ that states that workers are not working when they are driving to and from their jobs. However, there is an exception if the company compensates the employee for their commute time or asks them to perform a work-related task when they are going to or from the office.

Further, the employee is deemed ‘on the clock’ if the company requires them to drive to and from the office so the car can be used for the company’s business. For instance, if the at-fault driver’s employer requires him to drive his personal vehicle to work so it can be used to make sales calls, the driver is ‘on the clock’ when going to and from work. If he hits you in a car accident in this scenario, his employer will be vicariously liable for your injuries.

Social Gatherings

Is an employee on the clock when going to a company-sponsored gathering, such as a holiday party? It depends. Was the employee’s attendance required or voluntary? Also, did the company benefit from the worker being present? A social gathering can sometimes cause the employer to be vicariously liable for an employee’s actions.

Suppose an intoxicated worker hits your car after a work party he attended. The party included both clients and employees. He was not required to go but attendance was encouraged. If you were hurt, will his employer be liable? It depends in the situation, but the answer could be yes. The gathering involved clients, so the company probably benefited from the employee attending.

Also, while attendance was not required, the employee may have thought his career could be negatively affected if you did not attend. Also, if the employee drank at the work party, the employer also could be liable because alcohol was provided.

Independent Contractors

Vicarious liability does not usually apply to independent contractors. This is because the company that hired the contractor does not directly control the contractor’s work. The independent contractor offers the tools, materials, and workers required and oversees the work. So, the contractor and not the hiring organization would be liable.

However, there are cases when a business could be liable for their contractors’ negligent actions, such as if the business hired an unqualified contractor who injured someone. Or, the work that the contractor did was inherently dangerous, so the business could be held liable if the contractor injured someone in the course of the hazardous work.

Contact Our Glendale Personal Injury Attorneys

If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else, they may be liable for your injuries and other damages. But their employer could be vicariously liable if they were working when the accident happened. Talk to our Glendale personal injury attorneys at Ourfalian & Ourfalian today at (818) 550-7777. We can identify every possible party responsible for your injuries and hold them accountable.

Correlation Between Springtime Change And Increased Workplace Injuries

daylight savings time

Americans often have strong opinions on Daylight Saving Time (DST). Some people prefer having more daylight in the morning and evening, but others like the opposite. DST occurs around the middle of March, and some evidence suggests it leads to more job-related injuries. Learn about this topic below. If you were hurt recently in an accident, speak to our Glendale personal injury attorneys at Ourfalian & Ourfalian for assistance.

What Is Daylight Saving Time?

DST is the practice of moving clocks forward an hour in many countries as warmer weather occurs in the spring. The time is then turned back in the fall as cooler weather approaches.

The idea behind DST is to provide more efficient use of the available daylight hours by increasing the number of daylight hours in the evening. In most US states, clocks are moved forward an hour in the second week of March. They are moved back during the first week of November. However, Hawaii and Arizona do not currently observe DST. Daylight Saving Time was proposed in 1895 by a New Zealand scientist who gathered insects as a hobby. He aimed to have more daylight hours after his job to collect bugs.

How Does Daylight Saving Time Lead To More Workplace Injuries?

Two researchers at Michigan State University recently did a project that may suggest more accidents happen at work after the springtime change. Investigators David Wagner and Christopher Barnes claim that the number of job-related accidents rises after Daylight Saving Time goes into effect every March. However, they also found no increase in job-related injuries when clocks were turned back an hour every fall.

They did two separate studies that found the change to Daylight Savings Time led to 40 minutes less sleep for US workers. This caused a 5.7% increase in job-related injuries and 70% more work lost because of injuries. The researchers relied on US Department of Labor and Mine Safety and Health Administration data for these conclusions. Their research will be published in the September edition of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Can Losing Only 1 Hour Of Sleep Cause More Job-Related Injuries?

Barnes claimed in the research that losing one hour of sleep can make a significant difference. This is especially true for people in jobs that require great attention to detail. However, other studies have shown that losing sleep causes people to lose concentration on the job.

Barnes continued that many industries, such as trucking, have put rules in place that limit the number of consecutive hours truckers can drive without resting.

The researchers also noted that other scientists sometimes claim that a one-hour time change could not cause more accidents at work. However, they argue that the springtime change increases the severity and number of job-related accidents.

Further, a University of British Columbia study used data from the Canadian Ministry of Transport and found that when Canada changed to DST, there were 8% more accidents the day after the change.

Barnes noted in the research that many believe that only a one-hour change should not make a big difference in their sleep patterns, but it can.

Why Trucking Companies Must Follow Hours-Of-Service Rules

The research above shows how Daylight Saving Time changes can cause more accidents on the job. In addition, we have seen for years that workers who get less sleep can make mistakes in critical positions.

For example, the US government has recognized for years the severe danger of truck accidents when drivers do not get enough sleep. As a result, the US and state governments imposed limits on how long a trucker can drive without taking a break. If the truck driver is found in violation, the US government can fine the company.

Hours-of-service rules attempt to reduce the number of tired truck drivers on the road by mandating rest periods and lowering the number of hours truckers can stay on the road. These are effective and necessary laws; far too many tired truck drivers get in severe accidents with passenger vehicles. These terrifying crashes cause severe and fatal injuries every day in the United States.

Hours-Of-Service Rules For California Truck Drivers

Truck drivers in California must take breaks at defined intervals to ensure they have had enough sleep to drive safely. For trips inside California, truckers must follow these rules:

  • Truckers can only drive up to 12 hours after being off duty for at least 10 hours.
  • After working for 16 hours, whether or not they were driving, truckers must rest for 10 hours.
  • Drivers cannot drive their trucks after being on duty for 80 hours in eight days.

For drives outside California, truckers must follow these rules:

  • Truckers could be on duty for up to 14 hours if they were off-duty for at least 16 hours. The 14-hour window starts as soon as the driver clocks in. After that, it does not matter whether they drive their rig.
  • During the 14 hours, truckers can only be behind the wheel for as long as 11 hours.
  • Truckers have to rest for at least 30 minutes if it has been eight hours since they slept.
  • Drivers may only drive for 60 or 70 hours in a seven-day or eight-day workweek.

Other Causes Of Truck Accidents

Fatigued driving is not the only cause of truck accidents, but it is one of the biggest. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that safety defects are another common cause of truck crashes. Other crashes happen because the truck driver is not driving carefully or safely.

Call A Glendale Personal Injury Attorney Now

There are many severe accidents in the US every day. Many of these accidents happen on the highways and involve truck drivers. Sometimes the truckers did not get enough sleep, leading to the accident. Other accidents may have occurred because the worker was tired after the change to Daylight Saving Time.

Whatever the reason for the accident, the Glendale personal injury attorneys at Ourfalian & Ourfalian may be able to help you with a personal injury claim if someone’s negligence caused the accident. Please contact our Glendale personal injury lawyers for a complimentary consultation about your case at (818) 550-7777.

Are Rideshare Companies Liable For Accidents Involving Drivers?


Imagine you are in a rideshare vehicle in Los Angeles near Universal Studios Hollywood or Griffith Observatory. Suddenly, the rideshare driver is in a car accident, and you suffer serious injuries. Who will pay for your damages? Is the rideshare company liable?

The insurance depends on several factors when you are hurt in a rideshare accident involving Uber or Lyft. Read more about rideshare accident liability below, then contact Glendale personal injury attorneys for assistance and legal representation.

Responsibility For Rideshare Accidents In California

The first thing to understand about California car accidents is liability is based on negligence. This includes all vehicles, including accidents involving Uber and Lyft. If a driver was negligent and caused an accident, that person must pay for other drivers’ and passengers’ damages. To recover compensation for your losses in a California car accident, you must prove:

  • The other driver owed you a duty of care
  • The other driver breached their duty of care
  • Their negligence was a factor in your injuries and damages

All drivers in California must use ‘reasonable care’ when driving a car. Drivers must watch for other vehicles, pedestrians, and obstacles and drive safely. They are negligent if they do not use a reasonable car and cause an accident.

Accidents Involving Uber And Lyft

Under state law, Uber and Lyft are transportation network firms. As a result, passengers who are hurt when they are Uber or Lyft passengers are usually covered under the rideshare company’s commercial insurance policy.

Injured passengers might have a claim against the Uber or Lyft driver. However, the company’s $1 million commercial policy may also cover their losses if their losses are more significant than the driver’s coverage.

If another person caused the accident and you were a rideshare passenger, you would probably file a claim against the negligent driver. However, if the negligent driver does not have insurance, Uber or Lyft’s commercial policy may cover your damages.

What If The Rideshare Driver Caused The Accident?

If you were hurt as a passenger and the rideshare driver caused the crash, you would probably make a claim against your driver. However, liability depends on these factors:

  • If the driver was carrying a passenger or driving to pick up a passenger
  • Had the rideshare app on and was waiting for a passenger
  • Did not have a passenger, and the rideshare app was off

Depending on which of these scenarios occurred, different levels of insurance could be in play. For example, if the driver did not have the app on, then the driver’s personal insurance would cover damages.

However, if the rideshare driver had their app on and was waiting for a fare, $50,000/$100,000 contingent coverage could be in effect. If the rideshare driver had a passenger in the car or accepted a fare, the $1 million commercial insurance policy is in effect.

The rideshare driver might be dishonest if they had the app turned n when the crash happened. If a rideshare driver hurt you, you should talk to a Glendale personal injury attorney. They can subpoena the driver’s electronic records to determine the driver’s status.

Rideshare Accidents Involving Bicyclists And Pedestrians

Bicycle and pedestrian accidents involving vehicles depend on who was negligent for the accident. The big difference with these incidents is the pedestrian usually suffers severe injuries that may be fatal. Common accidents involving pedestrians may involve:

Rideshare drivers not yielding to pedestrians

Rideshare drivers pulling in front of pedestrians

Rideshare drivers opening a door into a bike rider or pedestrian

Rideshare Driver Liability Coverage

All California drivers are required to have basic liability coverage. The coverage level depends on whether the car was being driven for personal or business use. Liability insurance is higher for commercial rideshare vehicles than for personal vehicles.

In California, these are the minimum insurance requirements for personal vehicles:

  • $15,000 per person per accident
  • $30,000 per accident
  • $5,000 for personal property damages

Who To Sue In A Rideshare Accident?

Who you sue in a California rideshare accident depends on who caused the crash. As noted earlier, the negligent party is liable for damages and injuries. If the rideshare driver crashed into someone, the injured party would sue the rideshare driver.

However, the injured party may not know what caused the accident. Therefore, they could file a claim against all possible liable parties. During the discovery process, it often becomes clear who caused the crash.

Also, California has ‘Respondeat Superior’ laws. This means an employer is usually liable for a worker’s negligence when they were working at the time of the accident. For example, in a rideshare crash, this may mean the company is liable for the driver’s actions.

But, rideshare drivers are considered independent contractors in many cases. Therefore, whether the driver was an employee or contractor at the time of the accident could be a gray area in the law. You should speak to your personal injury attorney right away if you are in a rideshare accident. It may take time to determine who is liable and whether the driver was an employee or contractor at the time of the accident.

If the rideshare company’s commercial policy had been in effect during the crash, more money would be available if you had severe injuries. However, many personal insurance policies have low policy limits.

Contact Glendale Personal Injury Attorneys Now

Were you hurt in a rideshare accident? You could have massive medical bills and months of lost work time. How will you recover and move on with your life?

Glendale personal injury attorneys Ourfalian & Ourfalian have represented rideshare accident victims for years. Our attorneys know how to negotiate the best settlements with insurance companies and can go to trial and win if needed.

Ourfalian & Ourfalian represent rideshare accident victims in Encino, Alhambra, Arcadia, Burbank, Glendale, El Monte, Granada Hills, Los Angeles, Monterey Park, North Hollywood, Pasadena, Van Nuys, and surrounding communities in Southern California and the San Fernando Valley. Please contact us now for a complimentary consultation at (818) 550-7777.

How Long Does It Take To Settle A Personal Injury Claim In California?

personal injury

Being injured in a car crash, slip and fall, or other personal injury accident is a traumatic experience that most people usually want to put behind them as quickly as possible. After all, we are wired for fight or flight, and in times of injury and uncertainty, flight is often the most desired method of coping with a serious injury.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to receive fair compensation for your damages without fighting for what is rightfully yours. This requires working with an attorney, closely following your medical progress and long-term outcome, and generally taking the time needed to create a strong case against the at-fault party and fully establishing your damages. None of the personal injury claim processes can be rushed.

Residents of California that need help with a personal injury claim can trust the experienced legal counsel of the Van Nuys personal injury lawyers at Ourfalian & Ourfalian.

Four Elements of a Personal Injury Claim

In order to have a case against another party for causing your injuries, the following must be true:

  1. Existence of a Duty—The other party had a duty of care to you.
  2. Breach of the Duty—That party breached that duty.
  3. Injury—You were injured.
  4. Causation—The other party’s breach caused your injury.

Timeframe of a Successful Personal Injury Claim

No personal injury claim can be rushed, simply for the reason that no one really knows what your long-term physical and psychological outcome will be, at least not in those first few weeks or months.

A slip and fall victim may seem fine after being released from the hospital, only to relapse days later and require additional medical treatment. Similarly, the outcome of a victim of a traumatic brain injury can be impossible to predict; it may take years for them to regain their full capacity if they make a full recovery at all.

As such, the first, and often long process in a personal injury claim is simply to receive medical treatment and monitor the client’s progress, or lack thereof. The following questions must be asked during this time.

What type of work did they do and what life did they lead before the injury?

What type of work and life are they able to lead currently? What do their physicians predict their medical outcome to be?

What do the victim’s PTSD and other psychological test results reveal?

Fully understanding the client’s damages (medical expenses, projected medical costs, pain and suffering, loss of joy of life, permanent disfigurement and scarring, property damage, etc.) is key to a successful personal injury claim.

Filing the Lawsuit

A lawsuit can be filed within weeks or years (the California statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the injury). As such, an attorney can file a lawsuit before or after settlement negotiations.

Settlement Negotiations

Settlement negotiations usually take many months. During this time, the plaintiff’s attorney will thoroughly analyze the defendant’s insurance policy and either call, email, or write a formal letter to the other party, demanding a certain amount of compensation. The defendant’s insurance company will likely counter with a much lower offer. Negotiations may end up meeting somewhere in the middle, or the process moves on to the next step.


Mediation is actually another step in the settlement negotiation process, though instead of by phone or email, it is done in person. The plaintiff and their attorney will be in one room, while the insurance adjusters of the defendant will be in another. A non-involved third party (the mediator, who is usually a former judge or attorney) will act as the go-between. The goal of mediation is to come to an agreement by the end of the day (and avoid a trial), though this agreement is not binding until both parties sign.

Civil Trial

If settlement negotiations and mediation fail, the last step in a personal injury claim is a trial. During the civil trial process, the court will usually demand that settlement negotiation conferences continue to take place, the court’s goal being to resolve the matter outside of the courtroom so that the court’s time is not used up by the matter. If a settlement still cannot be reached, a jury will hear the evidence presented by both parties and make a decision regarding compensation. Either party can appeal the decision by taking the case to an appellate court.

Trials can be very costly, and the parties should take this into account when negotiating settlements. Sometimes compromising some at the settlement stage, may benefit the plaintiff by avoiding uncertainty and trial costs.

How Likely is it That My Case Will Go to Trial?

If you and the other party or parties cannot reach an agreement through negotiations, mediation, or arbitration, the last step in a personal injury claim is going to trial. This will add many months to a claim, as well as additional attorney’s fees and court costs. As such, it is often in both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s best interests to avoid a trial hearing, though not always.

In some cases, if the other party refuses to cooperate and help come to a reasonable settlement, your only option may be a civil trial. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only 3% of personal injury torts are resolved in trial, so chances are that you will not have to go through this long, arduous legal process.

The Length of Your Personal Injury Claim Depends on How You Were Injured

When it comes to the timeframe of resolving your personal injury claim, it matters how you got injured. For example, traffic injury claims are generally faster than toxic tort, medical malpractice claims, or product liability claims, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. However, when all personal injury torts are taken into account, the average time to resolve a case is about 14 months.

However, in all of these cases, a settlement should be put off until all of the injuries have fully resolved, or have reached a plateau. All uncertainties should be avoided prior to settlement, as once the case is settled, newly discovered injuries can no longer be considered.

Contact Our Van Nuys Personal Injury Lawyers

The most important thing you can do right now, following a personal injury, is to contact a Van Nuys personal injury attorney. Do not discuss your case, or anything at all, with the other party or their insurance company, as that will only harm your case. Feel free to contact Ourfalian & Ourfalian today at (818) 550–7777 to schedule a free consultation.