In a recent case in New Jersey, a pedestrian was struck by a city bus in an intersection. The bus’ impact caused catastrophic injuries to the pedestrian including permanent brain injury, as well as multiple fractures and broken bones.
What is as, if not more, troubling about this accident is that the driver of the bus had a record of being involved in over 50 accidents during his 30-year course of driving for his employer. What’s more, the driver had over 40 violations during his employment for issues ranging from distracted and careless driving, driving with a suspended license, and failing to follow police instructions. Yet, the bus company allowed the driver to continue to drive buses despite the egregious driving record the employee had. When this happens, an employer can be held responsible for their employee’s negligence.
Under Georgia law, and in most states as well, if an employee commits a negligent act while on the job, the employer can be liable for their employee’s negligence under the theory of respondeat superior. An employer can also be held independently liable for injuries caused by their employee’s actions under the theory of negligent hiring, supervision or retention. If the injury victim can prove that the employer knew or should have known that the employee had the tendency to engage in certain behaviors, such as careless driving, and that the accident and injuries were caused by similar behavior, the employer can be liable for failing to properly hire, supervise or retain the employee.
For example, in the case above, the attorneys for the accident victim must show that the bus company employer knew about their bus driver’s driving record and accident history, but failed to either properly train him or release him from duty, and his injuries were caused as a result, in order to hold the bus company liable for the victim’s devastating injuries. Another example is if a hospital knew of their nurse or doctor tendency to be negligent on the job but fails to take an action, the hospital could be liable for any malpractice committed by its staff.
An employer has a duty to exercise reasonable care so as to not hire or retain an employee that poses a risk of harm to others if the employer knows of the employee’s risky behaviors. If an employer fails to either train, supervise or fire the employee they know engages in risky, dangerous or negligent behavior, chances are they will be liable for any injuries the employee causes. Making sure employers properly train and supervise so they can safely perform their job aids in public safety.
There are a few loopholes that releases an employer from employee liability. For instance, if the employee was involved in an activity completely unrelated to his job, the employer may not be liable. Also, if it was the first time the employee engaged in the type of behavior that cause the accident, the employer may not be liable. Even more, if the employee’s actions were intentional versus negligent, the employer may not be liable.
If you, or a loved one, have been injured by someone who was on the job at the time of the accident, speaking to an accident injury attorney can help you navigate the law so that you can maximize your recovery against an employer and their negligent employee and receive all the compensation you deserve.