If an individual has been injured in a Washington, D.C. accident by an employee, in addition to other claims, the individual may be able to file a claim against the at-fault party’s employer for negligent hiring or retention. Under Washington, D.C. law, to establish a claim for negligent hiring or retention, a plaintiff must show that the employer negligently hired or retained an individual who committed a wrongful act by placing the individual in an employment situation that poses an unreasonable risk of harm to others. An employer may also be liable for negligently retaining an independent contractor.
These claims are based on the negligence of the employer, rather than on vicarious liability. Generally, an employer has an obligation to its customers to reasonably inquire into an employee’s past record and employment if, for example, an employee will have un-monitored access to customers’ homes in the course of the employment. An employer may also be liable for negligently entrusting an employee to use a vehicle or other property if the employer knew or should have known that the employee might use the property in a way that would involve an unreasonable risk of harm.
A recent case before a federal appeals court recently considered a negligent hiring claim in a personal injury case involving an independent contractor. In that case, Harrah’s New Orleans Casino had hired a wildlife removal company as an independent contractor to remove birds from palm trees near the casino. The plaintiff was standing in front of the casino when the contractor accidentally struck the plaintiff, causing her injuries in her leg and ankle.