If I had a car accident as an independent contractor for a limo company and my ex-employer went after the defendant for vehicle damages but lost the case, what is my liability?

Now, 1 year later the defendant has filed a class action suit against my ex-employer. I’ve been told by my ex-employer that both of us will be served subpoenas. Can this happen? Also, if I lose do I have to pay even though it is the limo company that the defendant is going after?

Asked on February 24, 2015 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

As the driver, you will be named in the lawsuit.  Although the other party is going after the limo company, that party could also seek compensation from you.  If there is a judgment against you which you cannot afford to pay, it would be advisable to file bankruptcy.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy is straight liquidation which will eliminate the debt.

There is an important distinction between an independent contractor and an employee.  As an independent contractor, the limo company is not liable for negligence on your part which may have contributed to the accident.  If you were an employee instead of an independent contractor, your employer would be liable for your negligence in the course and scope of your employment.  Therefore, if the limo company claims that you are an independent contractor and not an employee, it is not liable for your negligence in the accident.

In the event of a judgment against the limo company, the limo company could sue you to recover the amount of the judgment.

Again, in the event of a judgment againdt you which you cannot afford to pay, it would be advisable at that time to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  It would be premature to file bankruptcy prior to any judgment against you because you would not know the amount of the judgment.


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