There is a legal obligation called “duty of care” that all employers owe to their employees. Employees who have been injured on the job and are certain that it was caused by their employer’s failure to keep them safe must know their rights. In many circumstances, the workers’ compensation system does not permit an employee to sue their employer, but there are exceptions to this.
Employers can be held liable for workplace injuries under some circumstances that victims may not be aware of. Employee compensation may change depending on various factors that influence these scenarios. An employer who is found liable for negligence may face legal consequences such as being required to pay for their employee’s damages, pain and suffering.
What Can You Sue Your Employer For?
Negligence in employment is an area of law where an employer is held responsible for an act that causes injury to others. For example, this can happen when an employer acts negligently by allowing an employee to work a certain position or perform a particular task that they know is too dangerous, and/or a task that an employee is not adequately prepared for.
An employer can be negligent at many different points of the hiring and employment process. Some examples of negligence in employment may include:
- Negligent Hiring
- Negligent Retention
- Negligent Supervision
- Negligent Training
It can be difficult to trace some types of negligence back to the employer more than others. For example, negligent hiring is often easily detected when a worker doesn’t have the proper license to perform his or her tasks. However, it’s not as easy to trace negligent training to a specific supervisor in the case that many different people actually trained the employee.
Negligent Hiring Claims
Negligent hiring is when an employer negligently hires an individual with dangerous or untrustworthy character, and the employer knew or should have known this about the employee. This often results when an employer neglects to thoroughly investigate the person before hiring him or her. This type of claim relies on the idea that the employer failing to properly employ the employee placed them in the position where they could harm the victim.
An example of a negligent hiring claim might look like one employee getting assaulted by a coworker with a background of abuse and criminal offenses that were never uncovered with a proper background check. In this case, the employer could be held liable for neglecting to perform due diligence and failing to provide a safe environment for employees.
Negligent hiring is particularly dangerous in industries like construction, where workplace injuries are common. It is the employer’s responsibility to hire workers with adequate licensure and certification to operate certain machinery, and to be outfitted with proper safety equipment. If a worker isn’t authorized to operate heavy machinery but is hired to do so, and another worker is injured as a result, the employer could be held liable based on negligent hiring laws.
Negligent retention is keeping a person employed when the worker should have been terminated. It only differs from negligent hiring with respect to when an employer learns or should have learned about an employee’s lack of suitability for the job and kept him or her on board anyway.
Failing to take action against an employee with suspected risk of harm to coworkers (or others) can leave the employer liable for injuries, pain and suffering and even punitive damages.
Claims of negligent retention arise when an employer becomes aware of a problem with an employee but fails to take further action, like investigating, disciplining, terminating, or reassigning the employee. This is classified as negligence because the employer has a duty to protect other employees and the public.
Relevant factors commonly used to determine if the employer should have known about an employee’s unfitness are:
- The employee’s work record in general
- Whether any complaints were received about the employee
- The degree to which the employee’s negative actions were related to the job
- Whether any managers or supervisors witnessed the alleged actions
An example of negative retention would be if an employer receives complaints about an employee harassing a coworker and fails to impose adequate disciplinary action, eventually leading to the assault and injury of said coworker. The employer could be held liable for knowing the potential danger of the assailant and keeping other employees at risk.
Negligent supervision claims are based on an employer’s failure to monitor or reasonably control the actions of employees. An employee may allege that poor supervision by the employer allowed another employee to cause harm and personal injury.
Negligent supervision claims are common among jobs that require manual labor, and operating machinery. For example:
A claim of negligent supervision may arise when an individual who oversees a building site fails to perform his or her safety monitoring duties properly. If the supervisor observes a worker using machinery without the proper safety guards in place and fails to correct the hazard, the supervisor can likely be held liable for negligence.
Negligent training claims are essentially a variant of negligent supervision. Negligent training claims most frequently arise when an employer fails to train or incorrectly trains an employee, resulting in the employee’s actions injuring a coworker. Examples of negligent training that often result in personal injury include:
- The employer neglected to properly train and/or educate an employee responsible for guarding the property or securing the facility, prohibiting the worker from performing the job effectively
- The employer failed to provide essential knowledge and training to an employee in using equipment necessary to properly perform a task
Employer Negligence and Workers’ Compensation
As previously mentioned, construction sites are notorious for workplace personal injuries due to the nature of the work. Construction supervisors, building owners and general contractors in the state of New York have a duty to keep workers reasonably safe from any hazardous conditions. To accomplish this, construction site supervisors are required to learn and enforce state and federal safety regulations that were created to prevent unnecessary harm to workers.
It is important to understand that any injury sustained on the job qualifies a worker for workers’ compensation benefits. Negligence, or any mistakes made by the supervisor or employee, is not a factor when determining eligibility. This means someone can sue their employer (if the employer intentionally caused injury) while still collecting workers’ compensation.
Steps to Build a Claim Against Your Employer
Employees have the right to sue their employers when their rights have been violated in a way that leads to serious injury. The necessary factors for proving an employer’s negligence are similar to that of a standard personal injury case caused by negligence. Proving the negligence of an employer typically includes:
- Proving the employer owed the victim a duty of care
- Proving the duty of care was breached by the employer (i.e. failing to run a proper background check on a dangerous hire)
- Proving the victim was actually injured (injuries must be measurable, and recorded by a medical professional)
- Proving the injury was a result of the employer’s breach
New York’s Statutes of Limitations give employees three years from the date of incidence to take legal action against their employer.
Following these steps can help legal experts build the strongest possible claim:
- Record all impressions of the incident and surrounding circumstances. Create a timeline of events and take notes of key conversations.
- If applicable, receive and maintain records of all medical care and expenses related to the injury caused by the employer’s negligence
- Gather documents that might support your side of the story: company policies, employee handbooks, performance reviews, emails and correspondence, etc.
- Collect statements from any coworkers who saw or heard incidents that contributed to the problem or injury
- If pursuing a claim for emotional distress, keep records of going to professional help to address workplace grievances
- Consult with an attorney in a firm with years of experience in negligence cases
New York Employer Negligence Lawyers
If you were injured in a preventable accident because an employer acted in a negligent matter, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Sobo & Sobo. Suffering an injury in the workplace requires an experienced legal team to litigate for your rightful compensation. Our team has continuously achieved favorable outcomes for clients by investing quality experience and skill in each case.
Our legal professionals are fierce and compassionate advocates for our clients and use every resource available to pursue full compensation. If you have been the victim of negligence on the part of your employer, contact us for your free consultation. Call 855-468-7626 or visit one of our offices today.