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Owner vs. Employee: Determining Liability for Personal Injury

By: Louise Harris


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When you are injured at a business due to negligence, you can often file an insurance claim for personal injury. If the settlement offer is not acceptable to you, you can file a lawsuit. However, knowing exactly who to sue may be a bit confusing.

There are some cases in which you would sue a company for negligence and other cases in which you may sue the owner of the company depending on the way the business owners have set up their company. There are some very rare cases in which you might sue an employee individually, although the company will almost always be responsible for their employee’s mistakes.

When Can I Sue a Company for Negligence

When someone in the company is negligent in their duty of care, or if they intentionally hurt you, they will be considered responsible for your injuries and you will be able to file an insurance claim against them or sue them. If you cannot prove that there was some kind of wrongful action taken by the company, you may be considered responsible.

For example, if you were at the grocery store and you slipped on a puddle of water that they failed to clean up, they would be responsible. If there were signs all over saying, “wet floor,” and you slipped and fell, you would be responsible.

Why Businesses are Responsible for The Actions of Their Employees 

There is a theory in law called respondeat superior, which means, “let the master pay.” Although it may sound a bit politically incorrect, it simply means that an employer is responsible for the actions of its employees whenever that employee is on duty or performing work for the company.

If you were to sue a business because of their employee’s actions, you want to make sure that you can establish that the employee was performing work and that the accident happened during the course of business. If a person wearing a company uniform causes you injury when they are off duty and not performing work, you would not be able to sue the company. That person would be responsible.

When can I sue a business owner?

One of the main reasons people incorporate their businesses is because they do not want to be personally liable if their company goes belly-up or if they get sued. If the business is a corporation or limited liability corporation, you are unlikely to be able to sue the owner personally. 

If they are doing business as a sole proprietorship or even a partnership, then you may be able to sue both the company and the individual owner. This will ultimately give you a greater chance at victory or you can get a consultation from injury lawyers who specialize in these kinds of cases.

Finding an Attorney

You should never take on a personal injury case or any other legal case on your own. You should find an attorney who has many years of experience in dealing with personal injury lawsuits, particularly in the state you’re in. For example, in the state of California the attorney you select should also have an excellent reputation by the California State Bar.

Getting hurt in an accident can be very traumatizing. It is important that you get a fair amount of compensation for your injuries.

Published: June 16, 2021

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Louise Harris

Louise Harris is a co-founder of Christian Marketing Experts and a marketing specialist working with various brands online such as PSD to WordPress, Gospeletters, and many more. She is devoted to helping small businesses bridge success gaps by providing in-depth, actionable advice on digital marketing, SEO, and small business growth. Visit her book list here.

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