Understanding Florida’s Negligent Hiring Laws
Many of us have heard stories about companies being sued for something that their employees did to hurt a member of the public. But how is it that a company can be sued when it was their employee that did something wrong? In most cases where a company is sued for its employee’s conduct, it will be due to the employee’s negligence. But sometimes employees hurt others, not out of carelessness, but intentionally. When that happens, victims should look to a theory of negligent hiring or retention to help recover for their injuries.
Negligent hiring or negligent retention are two ways for injured victims to recover from companies when a company’s employee does something intentionally to cause harm. Companies never want to pay these claims because, according to them, they are not responsible for the intentional, criminal acts of their employees. At most, according to the majority of companies, they can only be held responsible for the negligent behavior of their employees while their employees are on the job.
But the law recognizes a different standard than that. The standard for a negligent hiring case is one where if a company should have known that its employee had a propensity for committing an intentional and hurtful act while on the job, then they should not have been hired. Similarly, if a company later finds out that their employee has the propensity to hurt members of the public while on the job, and refuses to fire that employee, they would be responsible under a theory of negligent retention.
Florida Statutes 768.096 and other Laws
The theories of negligent hiring and retention, as discussed above, are derived from common law principles. And in addition to those common law principles, Florida’s legislature has passed its own specific laws dealing with negligent hiring and retention. Perhaps due to the liability companies face, Florida has given employers a presumption that they did not negligently hire an employee if the company conducts a satisfactory background check prior to hiring. A sufficient background check includes:
- Conducting a background check with Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement;
- Taking reasonable steps to contact former employers, co-workers, and contacts of the potential employee;
- Ensuring that the potential employee fills out a job application that addresses issues of the employee’s past crimes, intentional torts, and other related issues;
- Reviewing the potential employee’s driving record should the employee be driving on the job; and
- Conducting an appropriate job interview with the potential employee.
If a company takes these steps during the hiring process it gives a company added protection from negligent hiring suits. But not taking these steps removes the protection entirely. In either case, to be successful, a plaintiff must show that the employer should have known better than to hire or keep a dangerous employee.
Examples of Negligent Hiring
There are many scenarios where a theory of negligent hiring comes into play. One is where a company sends its employee with a criminal record to its customers’ homes to make deliveries, and the employee subsequently steals from or otherwise injures the customers. Another typical case is one wherein the employee is a driver for the company, has a poor driving record, and gets into an accident. In both cases, it can be argued that the company should have known better than to put said employees into such situations. And in both cases the victims could recover from the companies for their losses.
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If you are the victim of an injury in the Miami area, have your case evaluated by a personal injury attorney who has the experience and knowledge needed to fight for you. The Miami attorneys at Alan Goldfarb P.A. are ready to fight for you in your case today.