Permission to Take It

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Q: Just before his shift began, my employer realized that he did not have the company-issued radio he needed for work.  Although he had no valid driver’s license, he took a company pickup truck and drove home to get the radio.   Driving back on the expressway, he struck a car.  Will we have to pay?

A: Did this employee advise anyone, or request or receive permission?  If not, your position will be that this employee had neither express nor implied permission to take the pickup truck. 

A court will also look at what happened afterwards.  Perhaps there is an incident report and a letter, issued at the time, directing this employee to appear for a formal company investigation, in which he was charged with using the vehicle without authorization.  Perhaps the company found him culpable, or he even admitted it, and your employee accepted discipline.

In this context, the company might lose a point if it made no report of the event to a law enforcement agency.  Or perhaps the company’s formal investigation did not begin until weeks after the incident, or was overly guided by an attorney.   The fact always remains that this employee took the pickup because he needed the radio to do company work.

Where there is evidence suggesting implausibility, collusion or implied permission, the issue of consent will go to a jury.  Disavowals by both the owner and the driver, without more, do not automatically result in victory, although they surely help.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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