Can I hold an Employer responsible under the Vicarious Liability Doctrine?
When an accident occurs, parties are often concerned with property damage, medical bills, and insurance companies. However, a question that needs to be considered is whether someone else can be responsible for the negligence that occurred?
What is Vicarious Liability?
Vicarious Liability is a common law doctrine that the United States took from England. The theory holds that in some situations a person can be responsible for the negligence of someone else. In every case, there must be a certain type of relationship to hold someone else responsible under the vicarious liability doctrine.
The key question to determine is whether the employee was acting for their personal benefit or the business. It's often a litigated issue since employees may drive home for lunch breaks, may make a short stop in between driving places for an employer, etc. An employer should make sure they take all reasonable steps to prevent such a situation from occurring.
When can an Employer be responsible?
Business Owners in Florida must make sure that they are aware that they can be responsible under the vicariously liable doctrine. The requirements to do so are:
- An act committed by the employee
- This act was within the scope of employment, OR
- During the course of employment and to further a purpose or interest of the employer
It's often a very strategic move for the plaintiff to hold the employer responsible for the personal injuries he/she suffered. In some instances, the employee's personal insurance will only cover a portion of the damages, and then it is wise to include the employer as a party to the lawsuit.
Did the Employer Negligently Hire or Supervise?
A separate claim in Florida from Vicarious Liability is Negligently Hiring or Supervising their employees. The employers can be responsible for tortious injuries if a court does find that they negligently hired or supervised their employees.
To start, an employer is presumed not negligent in hiring their employees if they conducted a background check. This background check must not reveal the employee unsuitable for their job. If the employer did not conduct a background check, this does not presume that they were negligent in hiring.
If for example, an employer knows of an employee's tendency to have anger problems. The employer must take adequate steps to ensure that the employee does not occur again. If they do not, then the may be liable for negligently supervising.
Talk To An Experienced Personal Injury Law Firm
To hold a defendant vicarious liable is often very useful in a lawsuit. Our team has an extensive background and we understand when an employer may be vicariously liable. If you want to speak to one of our experienced lawyers, we offer Free Case Evaluations. Call our Sebastian Office at (772-589-5500) or our Vero Beach Office at (772-774-7771) to schedule a Free Session today. Or you can start the process by filling out a Free Case Evaluation by clicking here.