Can I hold my company responsible for a car wreck that I was in during snow because they demand that I come in?

In this 2018 snowstorm, there was a state of emergency declared by governor. There was over a foot of snow. My boss texted me multiple times demanding I get myself and employees to work. I advised my employer that I could not leave house as power is out and my vehicle was stuck and roads were too dangerous if I could get

out. I also advised that I called my employees and they could not get out either. My employer advised that I was to open the store at 8:00 am regardless. I responded again that for safety reasons that there was no way I could make it out. My employer responded again that I was OK to ensure the store was open at 8:00 am. I dug my car out and made my way towards the main road where I wrecked my vehicle. I have saved all text from my employer. Can I expect my employer to pay for damages to my vehicle? Also, can I be terminated for not coming in?

Asked on December 9, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Unfair as it seems, you cannot hold your employer liable for your accident. The fact is that you chose to go in; you could have refused even if that would have resulted in your termination (granted not much of a choice). Bottom line, you "voluntarily" took to the road in bad weather conditions, so you must bear the consequences of your actions. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

No, you cannot hold them responsible for this. At they end of the day, so to speak, you chose to come in: you chose to put your job ahead of your safety. You could have chosen to stay home/off the road and take the consequences. Having voluntarily chosen to drive then, you, and not your employer, are responsible for what happens. The law does not let you  make another responsible for your actions simply because they told you to do something.
You may be terminated for not coming in unless you have a written employment contract protecting your job: without a written contract, you are an "employee at will" and an employee at will may be terminated at any time, for any reason--even unfair ones.


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