Premises Liability Lawyer
Generally, an individual or company that employs an independent contractor is not liable for injuries to third parties resulting from the contractor’s negligence.” See, e.g., MacCoy v. Colony House Builders, Inc., 239 Va. 64, 69 (1990). However, an important exception is found Restatement (Second) of Torts § 411 – “An employer is subject to liability for physical harm to third persons caused by his failure to exercise reasonable care to employ a competent and careful contractor (a) to do work which will involve a risk of physical harm unless it is skillfully and carefully done, or (b) to perform any duty which the employer owes to third persons.”
A few federal court cases have applied this rationale tin the context of trucking cases. the Western District of Virginia in Jones v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., 558 F. Supp. 2d 630, 642 (W.D. Va. 2008), in which the court elected to “extend the cause of action of negligent hiring of an independent contractor to this situation involving the selection of a carrier by a freight
broker or third party logistics company.” Similarly, in Turner v. Syfan Logistics, Inc., No. 5:15cv81, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51460 (W.D. Va. Apr. 18, 2016), the court found that Plaintiff’s “claim for negligent hiring of an independent contractor requires a showing of (1) physical harm to a third party, (2) caused by failure to exercise reasonable care to employ a competent and careful contractor, (3) to work which involves risk of physical harm unless it is skillfully and carefully done.” The third element is satisfied as ‘the operation of a tractor-trailer on a public highway involves just such a risk of physical harm.” Id.
Consequently, we can summarize the basic elements of negligent hiring/retention claim arising from an independent contractor’s negligence:
- the contractor was, in fact, incompetent or unskilled to perform the job for which he or she was hired;
- that the principal knew or should have known of the incompetence; c) that the harm that resulted arose out of that incompetence.
- “[T]he harm that resulted to the plaintiff must have arisen out of the particular quality of the independent contractor which made it negligent for the employer to select that contractor to perform the work.” Jones, 558 F. Supp 2d at 643 (citing Restatement (Second) of Torts § 411 cmmt. b).
What the principal knew or should have known is based on a reasonableness standard: what kind of investigation a reasonably diligent principal would have conducted under the circumstances. Skillful application of this three-prong standard can allow a skilled Plaintiff’s lawyer to successfully bring in new Defendants into the case, and allow for an additional basis for holding Defendants accountable for the harms they have caused. If you have questions about a premises liability case, contact a Premises Liability Lawyer in Arlington, VA, like the Law Offices of Ryan Quinn, PLLC for help.