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When Can an Employer be Held Accountable for the Wrongful Acts of an Employee?

By: Allan M. Siegel

A person who intentionally or negligently hurts someone can be held legally accountable for the harm. But if the wrongdoer was working on the job or performing job-related duties at the time, can the employer be held legally accountable as well? This is a particularly important question – especially when the wrongdoer lacks insurance coverage and the personal wealth to pay a judgment.

As a personal injury law firm that represents victims throughout Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia, we know there are many instances where employer / employee injury cases can arise. This includes situations involving commercial drivers who cause automobile collisions, employees who fail to address potential hazards, and police officers and security guards who use excessive force.

Generally, there are two ways to establish the liability of an employer in these types of situations:

  • The first is a legal theory called respondeat superior. This means that when an employee is doing their job – even if they’re doing the job badly – if the employee negligently hurts someone, then the employer is automatically just as responsible as the employee.
  • There is also a second way to establish the liability of an employer: to prove that the employer itself was negligent in hiring the employee, retaining the employee, or in the training or supervision of the employee. Proving this theory means showing the jury evidence that the employee had a past history of negligence or other wrongful conduct that the employer ignored.

In many injury cases our firm has handled, we have represented victims who were harmed by the negligence of various employees who were employed by companies. This experience has allowed us to recover millions of dollars in compensation in these matters, and enables us to handle all types of employee / employer personal injury and sexual abuse cases, including those involving harm caused by employees of trucking and commercial transportation companies, public services, retail stores, schools and day care facilities, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, nightclubs and restaurants, and more.

If you have been wrongfully hurt by someone who was on the job and you want to learn whether you have the option of suing the employer, you should contact our Washington, DC personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. for a free consultation.