California tort law allows employers to be held responsible for the tortious conduct of their employees under certain circumstances. One of the theories under which liability can fall on the employer is when they negligently hire someone that they should have known posed a danger. This also extends to negligent supervision when the employer should have known that the employee needed more supervision than their employer gave them. The California Supreme Court recently addressed some of these issues in a case that centered around whether an employer’s insurance company had to pay claims that arose from these causes of action. If you have been injured by someone else, you may be able to hold their employer responsible for your injuries. A knowledgeable Southern California personal injury attorney can help you to hold all the responsible parties accountable.
A Southern California school district hired contractors to oversee a building project. One of the contractor’s employees allegedly sexually abused one of the students at the school. Her representatives sued several parties, including the contractors. They alleged that the contractors should be held liable for negligently hiring and supervising the employee who assaulted the student. The contractors reached out to their insurers to defend them against the claims, but the insurance company argued that their policy did not cover this incident.
In this decision the court looked at different aspects of insurance and tort law. Generally, if someone commits an intentional tort, they alone are responsible for their actions. Even if an intentional tortfeasor has insurance then the insurance will not cover these acts in almost all circumstances. However, the contractors are not being accused of an intentional tort themselves, but negligent hiring, supervision, and retention, which is a tort based in negligence.
California case law expressly recognizes the tort of negligent hiring, supervision, and retention. Employers may be held liable under these causes of action after a sexual assault if the negligence of the employer is a substantial factor in sexual molestation by the employee. Here, the court found that the relationship between the employee’s actions and the negligence of the employers was close enough for the contractors to potentially be held liable.
The insurer argued that they should not be on the hook for the contractors’ liability because in this case the tortious acts were not an “accident.” The court here disagreed with their argument because while the employee’s assault was not an “accident” as would be covered by the policy, the contractor’s potential negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of the employee could be. This case teases out the different aspects of the intentional tort of sexual assault, and the negligent tort of negligent hiring and supervision.
Therefore, the court here held that under these facts, the insurance company should cover any damages incurred by the contractors for negligent hiring, retention, and supervision.
Contact an Experienced Southern California Personal Injury Attorney Today!
Even if a business is not directly responsible for your injuries, there are several legal causes of action that can hold them responsible for the actions of their employees. The personal injury attorneys at Neumann Law Group can help you to hold all of the people responsible for your injuries accountable, and to recover the damages that you are owed. Neumann Law Group serves clients in Southern California, including Huntington Beach and Los Angeles. Contact them today at (213) 277-0001 or use the contact form on this website to schedule your free consultation today!
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