When employees of a company cause injury or harm due to negligence, reckless behavior, or even malicious behavior, it is often the employer who is held liable for the resulting injuries. The fact is whether or not an employer had any intention to cause harm, or played no actual role in the harm caused, they are held responsible for their employees’ behavior.
Chiefly, the reason for this is that the employer is seen as directing the behavior of those they employ. They benefit from the employees’ good and productive behavior, and likewise, they share in the responsibility when that behavior needlessly causes harm.
Additionally, when an employee’s actions hurt an individual through neglect, ineptitude, or reckless behavior, the legal system seeks to make that individual whole. The employee is less likely to compensate the victim for their injuries, and as such the employer is on the hook for damages. Assigning liability to the employer rather than the employee is seen as a kind of cost of doing business as it ensures better outcomes when employees are not well trained, operate substandard equipment, or are simply unqualified to manage tasks that could in fact hurt others.
An added benefit of this practice is that it puts the onus of training, vetting of employees, and quality of equipment and machinery squarely on the employer themselves to ensure safety and lower their own risk (and the risk of those that could fall victim).
Under the doctrine of “Respondeat Superior,” employers are vicariously responsible for the negligent acts or omissions by their employees in the course of employment. And acts that occur “in the course of employment” are seen as those that are demonstrably authorized by the employer or so closely associated with an authorized act that an employer must be held liable.
The designation is significant because employees may commit negligent acts in the course of their work, but if those acts are not actually related to their job or employment, courts may be reluctant to assign liability to the employer. “Detour” and “frolic” are terms used to describe acts in the course of employment that deviate from explicit on-the-job instructions or duties to varying degrees, and they certainly can have an impact on liability in the long run.
Other areas where employers are often held liable for employee behavior that causes injuries or loss include: negligent hiring or retention or harassment.
If you’ve suffered injury as a result of negligent employees in the course of their work, you could be entitled to compensation. Call the experienced personal injury attorneys of Bizzieri Law Offices in Chicago at 773.881.9000. We can help you recover the full scope of damages to which you are entitled.