Is The Employee Who Injured Me Responsible for My Injuries?

by Barry P. Goldberg, A Professional Law Corporation
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A tort is a civil wrong that causes an individual to suffer harm, loss, or other injury. Generally speaking, the person who commits the tortious act is legally responsible for the victim's injuries. The theory of tort law extends to a San Fernando Valley employer's responsibility for injuries or property damage that an employee causes. This is known as "respondeat superior" or vicarious liability, meaning that an employer answers for an employee's actions or omissions if the employee caused injuries while acting within the scope of employment. An experienced personal injury attorney can explain this legal concept in further detail.

Respondeat Superior – Vicarious Liability for Employee Negligence

If you suffered injuries (resulting from an accident like a slip and fall or car crash) from an employee's actions or omissions, the employer may be liable for your damages. Where the employee is at fault for your injuries, the employer is liable for such torts committed by the employee within the course and scope of employment.

Employee versus Independent Contractor

In an employer-employee relationship, the employer is vicariously liable for the conduct of employees within the scope of employment. In contrast, an employer is not responsible for the tortious conduct of an independent contractor. The distinction between an employee and an independent contractor is the employer's right to 'control and supervise' the worker. An employee is subject to the employer's control as to the means to achieve a result, wherein the employer has the right to control the manner and method by which the employee performs tasks. An independent contractor is subject to control as to results only, wherein the independent contractor decides the details on how to achieve the result. Many times, businesses improperly classify employees as independent contractors, which an attorney can help you determine.

Scope of Employment

Again, an employer in the San Fernando Valley is liable for an employee's tortious conduct if the employee was acting within the scope of employment. Such liability is based on an assessment of three factors:

[1] Was the conduct "of the kind" that the agent was hired to perform?

  • The "nature of the conduct" must be similar or incidental to the "nature of the job."

[2] Did the tort occur "on the job" (i.e. within the time and space limits of employment)?

  • Minor deviation from the employer's direction ("detour") is usually within the scope.
  • Substantial deviation ("frolic") is usually outside of the scope.

[3] Was the conduct actuated, at least in part, to benefit the employer?

  • Trips with multiple purposes are within the scope if any substantial purpose of the employer is served.

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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