Vicarious Liability of Employers
Vicarious liability of employers is a form of strict liability which makes an employer liable for the negligent acts or omissions of employees that occur within the scope of the employee's employment. The employer does not have to be negligent in order to be vicariously liable to a third person. This allows an insured person to sue the employer for the conduct of the employee. Vicarious liability generally does not apply to the acts or omissions of independent contractors. The exception is an independent contractor who is acting as an agent.
An employer can be vicariously liable to a third person when:
• An employer knowingly or negligently hires an unqualified employee that is a cause of harm to another person;
• An employer fails to provide adequate supervision of an employee that is a cause of harm to another person;
• An employer fails to establish policies and procedures for an employee that is a cause of harm to another person;
• An employer fails to provide training to an employee that is a cause of harm to another person; and
• An employer knowingly or negligently allows an unfit employee to be retained that is a cause of harm to another person.
Common defenses for a claim of vicarious liability are:
• The employee's conduct is not within the scope of his or her employment; and
• The employee unreasonably failed to use any preventive, corrective, or safety measures offered by the employer to avoid harm.
Whether the employee's act or omission falls within the scope of employment will usually depend upon the following standards:
• The action taken was of the type of the employee was hired to perform;
• The action took place substantially within the time and space limits of the employment. For example: during working hours, at the place where the employee was expected to be;
• If the action was intentionally harmful, it was foreseeable by the employer; and
• The action was taken at least partly for the benefit of the employer.
Vicarious liability of employers is a doctrine that makes both substantial insurance coverage and asset protection strategies a necessity.
Like all of the articles on this website, this article is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Only a licensed attorney can provide legal advice. Contact us is you need a referral.