• Non-Essential Personnel on the Road: Who’s Liable?

    Non-Essential Personnel on the Road: Who’s Liable?

    Posted on December 17, 2017 by Neil Durkin Law Offices

    With the first snow of the season already on the record books, it’s time to revisit everything we know about driving safely in wintry weather. The first step each year to avoid automobile accidents is always to make sure your car is properly equipped with windshield wiper fluid, appropriate tires, a blanket and a way to clear all windows of snow and ice. Safe driving in snow means lowering your speed, making sure your lights are on, and not braking on ice. Of course, the best winter driving tip is often to stay off the road. But what if you can’t do that because of your job? When local authorities declare a state of emergency and say non-essential personnel should stay off the road, can you refuse to go to work? And if you get into an accident, who is liable for any damage or injuries?

    Who Are Non-Essential Personnel?

    The truth is that no matter how many times we hear that only essential personnel should be on the roads, there is no law defining who that is or what it means. It’s more of a recommendation, and a plea to keep the roads clear to cut down on the risk of accidents, as well as to keep the roads clear for snowplow equipment and emergency vehicles. But the state government can’t tell a private business that they have to close or keep their employees off the road except in cases of serious emergencies like dangerous storms, chemical incident or nuclear incidents, or biohazards that would risk other areas and people. In most cases, the announcements you hear on the radio and via robocall are really recommendations.

    Does Bad Weather Lower Liability If You Get into An Accident?

    In fact, just the opposite is true. Though there are certainly accidents that are nobody’s fault, there is also a general understanding that if you’re out in weather that’s bad enough to have generated a call for people to stay home, then you’d better be extra careful or you’re going to be viewed as having been reckless.

    What If My Boss Makes Me come into Work or Risk Being Fired?

    Unfortunately, that is a decision for each employee to face on their own. Your boss can absolutely fire you for any reason at all, including not being willing to drive in the snow. And if you do choose to stay home, even if they don’t fire you, they don’t have to pay you for the day you didn’t come into work.

    For more information on your rights in case of an auto accident, contact our office to set up a free consultation.