Negligence in Employment Law

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 What is Negligence in Employment?

Negligence in employment, or workplace negligence, is an area of law under which an employer is held responsible for the actions of an employee which causes injury to others. This may occur when an employer acts negligently in allowing the employee to take a certain position or to perform a particular task.

The legal concept of negligence as it relates to employment shares some similar principles as negligent entrustment and vicarious liability, although there are also some different principles in negligence at work from those types of violations.

Employers who are found liable for negligence in employment may face various legal consequences, including being required to pay the injured party damages to compensate them for injuries or losses. In addition, if there is a case of widespread negligence throughout a business, a court may, in some cases, require a company to revise their employment policies and handbooks.

Negligent entrustment laws are laws which involve personal injury, tort laws, and negligence. These laws govern injuries which result from an employer placing a dangerous item or instrument in the care of an employee and the employee’s conduct and handling of that item causes injury to another individual.

One of the most common examples of negligent entrustment is when supervisors allow employees to drive their company vehicles. If a third party is injured by an employee who is driving the company vehicle, it may be possible for the injured party to file a lawsuit for negligent entrustment.

Typically, it is necessary to show that the employer should not have entrusted the employee with the property or the employer had reason to know that they should not have granted that employee access to the property.
It is important to note that negligent entrustment laws overlap heavily with other types of laws including vicarious liability laws, respondeat superior concepts, and certain criminal laws.

There are some cases where an employer may be liable for employee negligence at work. This concept is known as vicarious liability, or imputed liability.

This legal concept refers to holding one individual accountable for the actions of another individual. Although this term applies to various different types of legal relationships, it is most commonly associated with the employee-employer relationship which is found in employment law.

Vicarious liability occurs when employees commit negligent acts while on the job which are considered to be unlawful and cause harm. As long as the action is taken in the course of employment and within the scope of the employee’s job, vicarious liability may apply.

This means that an employer may be held legally responsible for any damages or injuries which result from the negligent actions of the employee. The purpose of the legal concept of vicarious liability is to permit an injured individual to sue an employer instead of the employee because they are more likely to have greater financial resources than the employee.

Under this theory, although the employee was the individual who caused the actual harm, the victim will be able to collect a larger amount of damages at the expense of the employer. There are certain specific situations where an employer may be held vicariously liable for their employee’s actions, including when:

  • An employer knowingly hires an employee that is unqualified and who causes harm to result due to their lack of skills;
  • An employee was or became unfit, either mentally or physically, for a position, and a supervisor was aware of it, but allowed them to continue working anyway;
  • The employer fails to provide adequate supervision over the employee, which then led to an injury;
  • The employer has either no policies or procedures or insufficient policies or procedures in place, which then caused significant damages or injuries to occur;
  • An employer is aware of harassment that is occurring in the workplace, but does nothing to prevent, stop, or correct the harmful behavior; and
  • The employer fails to properly direct or train an employee regarding their assigned job duties, which causes injuries or damages to occur.

These are just a handful of the main examples of when an employer may potentially be held vicariously liable for an employee’s actions. It is important to contact an attorney for a more comprehensive list and more information involving vicarious liability claims.

What Are Some Examples of Negligence in Employment?

There are numerous examples of negligence in employment. An employer may be held liable for negligence at several points of the hiring and employment process, including:

Negligent hiring occurs when an employer hires an individual who lacks the proper or necessary:

  • Training;
  • Credentials; or
  • Experience.

An employer may be liable for negligent retention if they retain an employee when they should have been terminated. This may create various risks and hazards in the workplace.

An employer may be found liable for negligent supervision if the employer breaches their duty of care to provide proper supervision of an employee. In these instances, they may be found liable for any injuries which result.
An employer may be found liable for negligent training if there are incomplete training methods or programs which are used. This may compromise customer and client safety. It is important for employers to be aware of the type of training which is necessary to maintain safe working standards for employees.

There are certain types of negligence which may be more difficult to trace back to the employer than others. For example, negligent hiring may be detected if an employee does not have the proper license to perform their tasks.
It may be more difficult, however, to trace negligent training to a specific supervisor. This is especially the case if there are many different individuals who actually trained the employee.

What Are the Elements for Proving Negligence in Employment?

The elements required to prove negligence in employment are very similar to those for standard negligence cases. In employment settings, the elements required to prove negligence include:

  • The employer owed the injured party a duty of care;
  • The duty of care was breached by the employer, for example, by hiring an unqualified worker;
  • The victim was actually injured. Those injuries must be calculable; and
  • The injury was a result of the employee’s breach.
  • In certain cases, it is the employee who is being held liable for the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. This is due to the fact that they are the party who owed the duty of care to the victim.

In certain cases, the employee may be held liable jointly along with their employer. However, this may depend on the rules of the jurisdiction. In addition, the employee may face liability if they knowingly accepted a position without having the necessary qualifications.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Claim for Negligence in Employment?

It is essential to have the assistance of an workers compensation lawyer for any issues with a claim for negligence in employment. Filing a negligence in employment claim may require substantial legal processing and research.

It is important to note that you may be required to file a claim with a government agency prior to filing a lawsuit. For this type of claim, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney to help with your case.

Your attorney can advise you regarding the laws of your jurisdiction and do the necessary research to file your claim. Your attorney will also represent you any time you attend a court proceeding.

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