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employer liability for employee use of personal car / comment on credit card charge back / Is PD immune from liability
August 13, 2018
employer liability for employee use of personal car
    Thanks for all you do for the alarm industry! I have been using your contracts for as long as I can remember (Being a Licensed alarm installer since 1990). I also hope that I avoid needing you for anything else until the day I decide to sell. Lol!
    A question just arose this morning.
    What is the extent of my liability for an employee who walks into my office and asks, "Can I take my personal car to the job site today, because I want to do some errands right after work and it would be easier to do it from the job site location rather than come back to the office?" 
    What is my company's risk if he gets into an accident?
    What is my company's risk if he drives recklessly, in his own vehicle, during company hours?
    Is there a line item I can add to my company handbook to decrease or remove liability for this scenario?
Cliff Pfleger
    Great questions for a bar exam. A bit complicated for this forum. Here's what you need to know.
    Your employee can use his own car to drive to the job site, and then home. This would be viewed as commuting to work and the liability is entirely the employee's and his insurance carrier for the personal vehicle.
    That changes if the employee reports to the office first and then heads out to the job site. Then the employee is on the job during work hours, and traveling to the job site is employer business. 
    If your employee is on the job and gets into an accident the first layer of exposure is the employee and the employee's personal insurance policy. That carrier may balk if the employee regularly uses his vehicle for busness and failed to disclose that on the policy application, but that's another topic.
    The next layer of liability is the employer, because employer's have vicarious liability for the negligence of their employees while the employee is engaged in the employer's business. 
    To further complicate the answer, the employer would not be liable if the employee engaged in conduct that was outside the scope of the employment, such as deciding to detour for personal reasons and get into an accident or decides to use the car as a battering ram. 
    We've covered this topic before. See these articles:

     I asked insurance expert Alice Comple of The Butwin Group this question and here is her response:
    Below is response I received from our Commercial Lines Dept. as follows:
    "If the business is sued due to a car accident while the employee is using their own vehicle during business hours non-owned auto coverage from the employers Commercial Auto or Business Owners Policy would respond. Keep in mind that the employee that was driving can still be held personally liable for any damage or injuries they cause.”
Alice Comple, Executive Vice President
Butwin Ins
Great Neck, NY
(516) 466-4200 x-117
comment on credit card charge back from August 6, 2018 article
    I disagree that Amex is card holder friendly. It took me a long time fighting Amex as a card-holder where a company charged my credit card. I had paid for a deposit on a trailer to a company. Company then charges my credit card for the balance of the trailer and did not have trailer built. Amex said I should have not given them my credit card number. After around 6 months of fighting with them I finally got my money back (trailer was still not built yet) I canceled my Amex cards and stopped taking Amex. If anyone is interested in details I have all documents, even phone conversation with Amex.
On the chargeback window article below: AMEX rules are different than MC/Visa.
AMEX has no real time frame to dispute.
Wayne Akey
   I think it more accurate to say that Am X isn't friendly, period.  You can end up being on either side of the dispute and have it end wrong from your point of view. I've had disputed charges approved, some disapproved, when I was the consumer and        I've had consumer charges go either way when I was the "merchant" accepting the cc payment. It could be similar with other cards but seems to come up more with Am X. Maybe because Am X charges more you expect more assistance. 
    The best way to deal with disputes is to have as much documentation as you can.
Incidentally, if you think the credit card companies are tough, try being an Amazon seller or merchant. Wait until Amazon starts offering security and starts getting the complaints common in the alarm industry. Amazon is going to need a whole new complaint department. Welcome to the security industry.
Is PD immune from liability
    The following paragraph was cut/paste from a court tested and street tested Verified Response ordinance. Similar language is in the SIAC Model Ordinance.
      "No Duty or Obligation:
      Nothing in this Article imposes or creates any express or implied duties or obligations on the part of the City its Police Department or any other governmental agency. Nothing in this Article creates any express or implied duty or obligation for the Police Department to respond to an alarm activation of any sort whether verified or not. Any and all liability or consequential damage resulting from the failure to respond to an alarm activation of any sort is hereby disclaimed and governmental immunity as provided by law is retained by the City."
    Another interpretation…. … the city has NO liability if they do not respond, but major liability if they do respond. 
    Question: Could this be justification for wide-spread VR-Verified Response legislation and policy? 
Lee Jones
Support Services Group.
    I think you misunderstand the message and why the PD thought it necessary.
    Under ordinary circumstances the PD has no liability for failing to response to an alarm or otherwise provide police protection to any particular person at any particular time. That changes, however, if the PD has given some indication that the person in need can rely on PD response.
    In other words, alarm signal activates, cs contacts PD and PD doesn't respond. No PD liability.
Same scenario, except PD calls subscriber premises, says PD is on their way and person in need should sit there and wait.     Now when PD doesn't show up there would be liability [absent a damn good reason for not showing up]. 
    So when the PD requires verification it does not intend to create a special circumstance whereby the person in need is entitled to expect PD response. Hence the disclaimer.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301
516 747 6700