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Jul 02

Injured by an Employee - Is the Employer Liable?

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Generally speaking, an employer is vicariously liable for the actions of their workers. What this means is that a company is responsible for the actions of their workers that lead to injury of a person during the course of the worker's employment.

This is an important consideration because the employee alone may not have access to the funds necessary to compensate a victim. Further, an employer reaps the benefits of the worker to advance their own interests, so it follows that they should also bear the losses of the worker's actions as well.

A person who is injured by a company's employee may have a right to claim compensatory damages from that company if their injury is caused by the actions of the employee.

An employer may also be liable for unauthorised acts by their workers if those acts are so closely connected with their regular duties that they may be regarded as modes (albeit improper) of those duties.

Howl at the Moon Broadbeach Pty Ltd v Lamble [2014] QCA 74

Facts

This case involves a person standing outside a nightclub who was struck in the head by a metal dustpan wielded by the nightclub's barman.

Allegedly, there was an altercation on the mall outside the nightclub and the barman acted to protect his manager.

There was an issue regarding whether the employee's actions were within the course of his employment because the attack occurred outside the nightclub and his duties did not extend outside the premises.

The trial judge ruled in favour of the victim and the nightclub appealed the decision.

Judgment

The nightclub lost in the appeal because the Appeal Court held that there was an implied authority by the employer for the barman aiding his manager.

Further, it was accepted that in regular circumstances, it would have been in the barman's course of employment to act in an emergency to protect an employee acting within the scope of that employee's duty.

The victim was awarded damages in the amount of $1,399,000.

Conclusion

Employers are responsible for an employee's actions within the course of their employment. As such, they are accountable for any injuries that may be incurred as a result of those actions.

If is important that a person who is injured by an employee or on a business premises seek advice from Specialist in Personal Injury to confirm their rights and their possible entitlement to claim damages for their injuries.

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