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Jonathan Rosenfeld

December 7, 2021

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When an employee or other worker is supervised by someone else, the employer has an obligation to the general public to properly and adequately supervise these people.

When an employer fails to exercise the proper degree of supervision, they can be held legally responsible.

Negligent supervision and hiring claims are a good way to reach companies that may otherwise not be able to be sued.

When you are alleging that the employer failed to use reasonable care in hiring and supervising employees, it requires proof.

At Rosenfeld Injury Attorneys, we can help you show that the employer’s failure to supervise employees caused your injuries.

Contexts for Negligent Supervision Claims

Negligent supervision cases have recently been filed in larger numbers against employers who supervise people who are dealing with children.

In fact, one of the major cases that established the case law for negligent supervision in Illinois arose in a case where a minor was sexually abused by a pastor.

However, negligent supervision cases can go beyond that to any circumstance where one employs another. It is often a way that can punish conduct that cannot be reached by normal vicarious liability principles.

Employers Have Been Using Independent Contractors Instead of Hiring Employees

These days, many companies are trying to avoid hiring employees to the fullest extent possible. They still need the work done.

Instead, they have been opting to bring on independent contractors, both to keep compensation costs low and to try to avoid negligent hiring claims.

However, even when an independent contractor is involved, the company has the obligation to properly supervise them.

How Negligent Supervision Claims Work

There are three elements that you need to prove in order to hold the employer liable for negligent supervision:

  • The company had a duty to supervise the employee
  • The defendant negligently supervised the employee
  • The negligent supervision was the proximate cause of your injury

Negligent Supervision Case Law

A negligent supervision case is about more than just how the employer supervises employees on the job.

According to the common law definition of negligent supervision, the following could lead to employer liability:

  • The employment of improper persons
  • Negligence in the actual supervision of activities
  • Failing to prevent negligent conduct by employees or third parties under the control of the employer

What is Necessary for a Negligent Supervision Claim?

A recent Illinois Supreme Court case clarified the law on negligent supervision. The court clearly stated the three elements listed above as being necessary for a negligent supervision case.

The employer does not even need to have actual notice of an employee’s unfitness for their job.

All the employer needs to have is a general idea of unfitness. In other words, employers cannot put their heads in the sand when supervising or hiring employees.

If employers are hiring people who are responsible for children and adults, they should go beyond a simple Google search when hiring and perform background checks. Otherwise, they could be found negligent.

Liability for Negligent Hiring

Negligent hiring is a part of negligent supervision cases. Here, you would need to show that the employer knew or should have known that the employee presented a danger to the organization.

This is a common claim when companies, in the employment context, have failed to properly check a prospective employee’s background before hiring them.

For example, this has been a common claim against ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft when their drivers have assaulted passengers.

When workers have significant interaction with the public and are responsible for the safety of others, employers must pay closer attention to job applicants.

They should look for information that may show an employee’s unfitness for the job. This could include the following:

  • Employment history
  • Criminal background check
  • Driving record (if they are transporting passengers or driving any vehicle)

Employers need to know that the employee can do the job safely. Otherwise, they could be held responsible for the plaintiff’s harm when their employee has injured someone else.

Employers can be held liable when the following elements apply:

Liability for Negligent Training

Many companies that rely on independent contractors are sued under a negligent training theory.

This is common for companies like FedEx that put drivers out on to the road every day but do not hire them onto their books. Employers must properly train workers to do their job safely.

If a worker harms other employees or other people as a direct result of their lack of training (or if it is a substantial factor), the employer could be held liable for injuries caused.

In order to prove a negligent training case, an injured party must show that the employer knew or should have known that an employee was not being properly trained and that the lack of training would cause a particular risk of injury.

The Proper Supervision for Companies

With that in mind, you are likely wondering what a company must do to reasonably supervise an employee to avoid such claims. Simply stated, they must supervise employees in a responsible manner.

This does not mean that they are involved in every single detail or employment at all times.

Instead, the focus is on whether the employer did what a reasonable supervisor would do. It does not mean that they could turn a blind eye when there are allegations of misconduct.

Negligent Retention Claims

There are some times when an employer should fire an employee who poses a risk of physical harm to the public.

When an employer learns that the employee may pose a danger or other particular risk, they must make a reasonable investigation.

Then, if they learn that the employee has a propensity towards violence, sexual harassment or dishonesty, they have an obligation to dismiss that employee.

Otherwise, they may injure co workers or the general public. This is when you can file a negligent retention claim.

Proving the Causation Element of Your Case

One of the challenges in every negligent supervision case is proving that the lack of supervision or training was actually the cause of the injuries.

Here, the lawyer would need to do an extensive investigation of the corporate training practices and the actual training that the employee responsible for the accident and fellow employees may have received.

Then, they would need to recreate what happened during the accident and show how the proper training would have prevented the negligence that the employee showed.

How Negligent Supervision Differs from Vicarious Liability

One of the major ways that injured victims can recover from an employer defendant is through vicarious liability.

This theory is that an employer is responsible for the acts committed by an employee during the scope of their employment.

Negligent supervision is a lawsuit ground filed against the employer themselves for what they did or did not do.

It is often used when there is not an employment relationship that would allow a lawsuit against the company or when the employee did something outside the scope of their employment.

This is another way for an accident victim to recover financially for their injuries when case law may make it difficult.

How to File a Claim for Negligent Supervision

When an employer is shown to have negligently supervised employers, they must compensate victims who have been injured.

In order to be eligible for financial compensation, you would file a lawsuit against the employer.

First, you should consult an experienced attorney who knows how to sue employers for their violations of the law. The attorney would gather the evidence necessary to prove each of these elements.

Examples of Negligent Supervision Claims

Here are some instances in which employers have been held liable in negligent supervision claims:

  • Camp directors and agencies that run camps for children have been held liable for the actions of camp counselors
  • Religious organizations like the Catholic Church and youth organizations such as Boy Scouts of America have had to pay in lawsuits alleging sexual assault
  • Debt collectors and consumer reporting agencies have been responsible when employees have violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
  • Employers can be held liable in cases where employees have committed acts of sexual harassment or employment discrimination.

Damages That Negligent Hiring Employers Must Pay

If your negligent supervision claim is successful, you may be able to recover the following damages for employer negligence:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

Depending on how widespread and pervasive the employer conduct is, you may even be able to obtain punitive damages in your case. However, this is uncommon and requires extreme misconduct.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

Much of your negligent supervision case depends on records and documents that you would get from the employer. This includes employment records and documents relating to things like employee discipline. You can be certain that they will not give up these documents willingly.

Your personal injury attorney will need to direct them to preserve these records in anticipation of litigation. Then, they will need to fight for these records in discovery if your personal injury claim goes to trial.

Fighting large companies in court is not easy. It takes experience and effort to prove that a company breached its legal duty. An attorney can provide legal advice that could help you successfully file a lawsuit.

Call Our Law Firm for a Free Consultation

If you or a family member have been injured, and a company’s negligent hiring was to blame, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Our lawyers can help with your personal injury case.

Call the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers at (800) 424-5757 or fill out an online contact form to schedule your free consultation.

We can help you take on large companies when their lawyers and insurance companies try to put up roadblocks to keep you from getting what you legally deserve.

Call us now, so we can form an attorney client relationship and help you recover financially for your injuries.

Free Consultation (888) 424-5757