How Negligent Hiring Can Lead to Employer Liability
If you have been injured due to the fault of an employee who was acting within the course and scope of his or her employment, then you may — depending on the particular circumstances of your case — be entitled to bring a claim against the employer for negligently hiring the employee who caused your injuries. Negligent hiring claims are separate and independent from vicarious liability claims, where the employer may be held directly liable for the actions of their employee(s).
So, what constitutes a negligent hiring claim, and how does it work?
Negligent Hiring vs. Vicarious Liability
People unfamiliar with injury litigation may mix up “negligent hiring” and “vicarious liability.”
In California, vicarious liability makes employers directly liable for the negligent acts of their employees (so long as the employees are acting within the course and scope of their employment). When you hold an employer vicariously liable for their employee’s negligent acts, you are essentially holding them liable for the same acts of the employee. For example, if you are injured by a delivery driver employee in a motor vehicle accident, then you may be able to hold the employer vicariously liable for the negligent driving of their employee. The damages you would be entitled to on the basis of such negligent driving would apply to the employer.
Negligent hiring is different. A negligent hiring claim is an entirely independent assertion altogether (though you can assert both claims in your injury lawsuit). When you make a negligent hiring claim, you are not necessarily holding the employer liable for the acts of the employee — instead, you are holding the employer liable for failing to exercise reasonable care in hiring, supervising, and retaining the employee. Negligent hiring claim is based on the theory that had the employer exercised reasonable care in hiring, supervising, and retaining the employee, then you would not have been exposed to the dangerous, negligent acts of the employee.
Here is an example.
Breaking It Down
Suppose that you are injured by a pizza delivery driver in a motor vehicle accident. As it turns out, the delivery driver was driving while intoxicated at the time of the accident. After consulting with an attorney who performs an initial investigation and factual discovery, you discover that the pizza restaurant chain that hired the delivery employee did not perform a background check on the delivery employee’s driving record and background, which would have revealed a string of DUIs and a history of alcoholism.
Certainly, it could be argued that the pizza restaurant that hired the delivery employee knew or should have known about the background of the employee who presented a risk for others on the road. By negligently hiring the employee, the restaurant becomes responsible for injuries caused by that employees drunk driving.
If you have been injured due to the fault of a California employee, you may be entitled to recover damages from the employer for negligently hiring the problematic employee. A negligent hiring claim can be tacked on to additional injury claims, making your lawsuit more potent overall. Call West Coast Trial Lawyers at (888) 888-9285 for a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer today.