Negligent Hiring Claims in Washington, D.C.

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.

What Is the Difference Between Vicarious Liability and an Employer's Primary Negligence?

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.

The plaintiff filed a negligence claim against the contractor and its employees and the casino. The case went to trial and the jury found the casino was negligent and that the casino was 49% at fault, the contractor was 50% at fault, and the plaintiff was 1% at fault. The jury awarded the plaintiff damages for past pain, suffering, and mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, past medical expenses, lost wages, loss of college tuition, as well as for future pain, suffering, mental anguish, disability, scarring, and disfigurement.

The casino argued in part that there was insufficient evidence of negligent hiring to support the verdict, but the appeals court disagreed. The court explained that the plaintiff presented evidence that the casino was negligent for hiring the contractor because there was evidence suggesting the contractor was incompetent. The court explained that the evidence included the Better Business Bureau’s “F” rating, an expired certificate of insurance, and the lack of the contractor’s own equipment.

Contact a Washington, D.C. Injury Lawyer Today

If you live in Washington, D.C. and have been injured in an accident, contact a Washington, D.C. injury lawyer to have your claim evaluated. The firm of Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC has more than two decades of experience representing accident victims, and handle all types of injury claims, including Washington, D.C. premises liability cases. We have the drive and resources to pursue all of the parties responsible for causing your harm or loss and we won’t recover any fees unless we obtain a settlement or a  judgment in your favor. Call (800) 654-1949 or fill out a contact form online today to schedule a free consultation.

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