Personal Injury Newsletter

  • Understanding Breach of Warranty
    Although the public tends to trust the integrity of a product and the company that produces it, not all products are made safely and injury can result from products that are improperly designed, manufactured or distributed. In... Read more.
  • A Survey of Elder Abuse and the Law
    In general, the broad term “elder abuse” is used to encompass several forms of misconduct directed toward individuals aged 60 or older. Elder abuse is considered to be a serious problem in the United States by the... Read more.
  • Exercising Rights Under the Federal Tort Claims Act
    In most states, an individual who is injured by an employee’s negligent acts can generally sue the employer, if the negligent act was committed in the course of employment duties. Until 1946, however, “governmental... Read more.
  • Increase in Distracted Driving
    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving accounted for nearly 6,000 deaths in the United States in 2008 alone, and over half a million injuries. That fatality number accounts for 16 percent of... Read more.
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What is Negligent Hiring?

“Negligent hiring” is a legal doctrine that holds employers liable for unlawful acts committed by their employees. The issue arises when an employer hires a person that she knew or should have known could pose an undue risk of harm to others within the course and scope of employment.

Under this doctrine, the employer has the responsibility for checking the background and references of any job applicant before placing that individual in a situation of contact with the public. Examples of businesses particularly at risk may include:

  • Schools
  • Housing
  • Youth organizations
  • Customer-service

Establishing a Claim Under Negligent Hiring

A person that alleges injuries caused by an employee and expects to hold the employer liable under the doctrine of negligent hiring must show that:

  1. The employer owed a duty to that person because there was an association or connection between that person and the services or business the employer provides;
  2. The nature and frequency of the employee’s contact with the public may pose a potential risk of harm; and
  3. Evidence of the employee’s potential risk to others existed prior to and at the time of the hiring and that the employer failed to investigate.

Negligent Hiring Frequently Cited in Litigation

In December, 2005, the parents of an eight year-old boy filed a lawsuit against FedEx Corp., alleging the negligent hiring of Paul Sykes, a convicted sex offender. The lawsuit alleged that Sykes approached the family at the Connecticut FedEx Kinko’s store where he was employed, and offered to repair their home computer. While visiting their home to repair the computer, Sykes allegedly assaulted their son. The lawsuit asserted that FedEx knew, or should have known, of Sykes’ dangerous propensities as a sexual predator. In April of 2007 Sykes was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the molestation. In 2008, a federal judge dismissed the civil lawsuit against FedEx, ruling the company could not be held responsible for the conduct of its employee outside the workplace. The case is currently on appeal.

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