Companies can be held liable for the injuries of coworkers, clients, or strangers caused by an employee’s bad behavior. Legally referred to as respondeat superior, employers are held responsible for the actions of their employees, but only if the employee is acting within the scope of employment. This means that the employer can only be held liable if the employee was doing their job or acting on behalf of the employer.
For example, say the employer has a policy in place where if the delivery of food isn’t done within 30 minutes of the order being placed, the food is free. If an employee speeds through traffic trying to beat this deadline and as a result, causes an accident and injures someone else, the employer can be held liable for the accident and injuries. Victims of these accidents will not have a tough time proving that the company should have been aware that the employee might cause harm when acting within the scope of their employment.
However, it is possible for an employer to not be found liable if the employee acted out upon their own behalf, and not that of their employer. Should the employee cause injury to someone outside of the scope of their employment, say for their own personal interest and not under the instruction of their employer, the company could potentially avoid a lawsuit. For example, say an employee is utilizing a company car. The employee then decides to run a personal errand, which is not within the scope of their employment, and causes an accident. Injuries caused to the victim in the accident will be held against the employee, not the employer, since the accident occurred due to running a personal, not a company ordered, errand.
However, companies could be sued for careless or negligent hiring. This happens when a company is sued for carelessly hiring workers or keeping workers after knowing the worker may pose a potential danger. This rule applies even when the employee acts outside of the scope of employment and is usually used to prove violent acts, such as rape, robbery, or assault in the workplace. For example, say a company hires an employee and fails to run a background check. If that employer had run the background check, they could have known that the employee had been arrested for assault. If that employee assaults a coworker, the company can be held liable for negligent hiring.
If you’re considering suing your employer for injuries caused at the workplace, contact an attorney today. Experienced lawyer James W. Sutton, III has been protecting the rights of workers for 17 years. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.