What Is Negligent Supervision of Employees?

confused blonde woman using mobile phone

As a general rule, everyone has a responsibility to go about their lives exercising a certain level of care – that is, to behave in such a way as not to injure others. Failure to act with reasonable care is called negligence. When someone’s negligent actions hurt another person, they can be held liable for the consequences.

A particular form of negligence exists for employers, who must supervise the people they hire to perform work for them. Failure to supervise employees appropriately can make an employer liable for an injury that the employee causes – even if the employer was not actually present when the injury occurred.

While employers are typically vicariously liable for their employees’ negligence, the worker must be an actual employee, not just an independent contractor. In contrast, an employer could be held liable for negligent supervision even if the worker was an independent contractor instead of an employee.

How Negligent Supervision Can Make Employers Liable

When employees are on the job, they act as agents of their employers, and as such, their employers are responsible for their behavior. After all, a truck driver wouldn’t be driving a particular truck on a specific route at a particular time if they weren’t being paid to do so, for example. Employers, therefore, have a duty to supervise their employees to ensure they carry out their job tasks with a reasonable degree of care.

Employers could be liable for failing to adequately supervise their workers if they:

  • Fail to discipline workers for workplace violence
  • Tacitly encourage a climate of fraud or deception
  • Fail to make necessary safety reports
  • Reward or turn a blind eye to misconduct

Examples of Negligent Supervision of Employees

Here are some hypothetical examples of negligent supervision in action to illustrate the concept of negligent supervision:

  • A trucking company receives complaints about a particular employee’s driving habits but doesn’t follow up on those warnings
  • A contractor lets someone without adequate training operate heavy machinery at a job site
  • A nursing home doesn’t have policies in place to verify that its residents are receiving their medications

Key Elements of a Negligent Supervision Claim

To win a negligent supervision claim, you will need to establish that:

  • The person who injured you was working within the scope of their job at the time.
  • Their employer consequently had a duty to supervise the worker.
  • The employer failed to take reasonable steps to do so.
  • You suffered injuries.
  • Your injuries were a direct result of the employer’s failure to supervise the worker.

Proving that the employer failed to adequately supervise the employee can be considerably more challenging than establishing that an employment relationship existed. An experienced attorney can investigate the situation to determine if the employer knew or reasonably should have known about the hazard posed by the employee’s behavior and whether they took adequate steps to address it.

How Our Lawyers Can Help with Your Negligent Supervision Case

Were you injured because an employer failed to adequately supervise their worker? If so, you could be entitled to pursue compensation from the employer. Contact the team at Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, for a free consultation with a North Carolina personal injury lawyer about your case.

Davis Poisson is a trial attorney with Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC and is licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Davis devotes the majority of his practice to civil litigation with a focus on personal injury law. He represents clients throughout the Carolinas in all areas of personal injury law including car accidents, trucking accidents, catastrophic injury, premises liability and wrongful death cases.