If a company employee makes a mistake that ends up harming somebody else, who is ultimately responsible -- the employee or the company? Most of the time, the law
An Employer's Liability For The Employee's Actions
The term "respondeat superior" is Latin for "let the master answer," and it is used to transfer liability from the employee/servant to the employer/master. Why would the courts do this? Partially, the courts reason that when the employee is acting on behalf of his or her employer, so it's the employer who is authorizing the activity or benefiting from it in some way. Partially, it is to encourage employers to be responsible and make sure that their employees are adequately trained to do their jobs safely. General society benefits from this not only because it makes the world safer, but because it puts the responsibility for any financial losses suffered on the backs of those best able to bear the costs: the company and its insurers.
You also benefit from this. If you're injured by an employee's direct
The Employee's Status And Scope Of Employment
In order to be successful in a case under the theory of respondeat superior, you usually have to prove that the person who injured you was an actual employee of the company that you're trying to sue. That's usually easy enough to do, although some cases can get sticky if the employer has
You also have to prove that the employee's actions were within the scope of his or her employment. That's often broadly interpreted by the courts and each state has a somewhat different standard. However, there are several things that most cases have in common:
theactions took place at the employer's place of business and while the employee was "on the clock;" theemployee was acting in his or her official capacity as a representative of the business; theactions of the employee were at least partially to benefit the employer; theharm could have been foreseeable (and prevented) by the employer.
For example, a real-life case that's currently pending in the courts involves an employee of a used car lot that took a truck as a trade-in from a plumber. The plumber's business decals, with the name of his business and the business phone number, were prominently displayed on the old truck. The used car lot employee stopped the plumber from removing the decals, saying that it would damage the paint, and promised that they would be removed later.
Unfortunately, the decals weren't removed, and the car was sold overseas where it was eventually sold to Islamic jihadists. When a photo of the truck, complete with the plumber's business name and phone number on it, went viral on the internet and made the news, the plumbing company was forced to shut down for a while because of harassment and threats. The plumber is now suing the used car lot for a million dollar
If you've been injured by the actions of a company's employee, discuss the situation with a personal injury attorney. The company, not the employee, may be liable for your damages.