How Negligent Hiring Works Under Texas Law
Companies are required, at their peril, to be vigilant in their hiring practices. When a company hires someone for a potentially dangerous job and they do not properly vet the applicant, Texas law allows anyone harmed by this employee to sue the company.
In this article Texas attorney Michael Grossman explains how "negligent hiring cases" work under Texas law.
What "negligent hiring" actually means.
In general, negligence is the failure to live up to a reasonable standard of care. Since there is no "magic list" of things someone can do to be held liable, each case is examined individually. In the negligent hiring context, the law requires you to show that the employer had a specific duty to you to hire a competent, safe employee---they didn't---and then you or your loved one was hurt as a result.
To put this in perhaps the starkest relief possible for this area of negligence, a nuclear power plant would clearly be in the wrong if they hired a 17 year-old to manage their facilities. But obviously, most cases are much more complicated.
Here are some common scenarios in which we've alleged that a company was liable to our clients under this theory:
- In countless truck accident cases, we have found that trucking company employers have not performed even cursory background checks on the drivers they hire. Had they, they'd have found their drivers had been previously fired for causing fatal wrecks, doctoring driver logs, and even serious drug and alcohol abuse while on the job.
- We've had many cases in healthcare facilities where nurses were hired to attend to seriously ill or mentally deficient patients who had zero business performing that job. For instance, one of our clients was recovering from surgery. The attending nurse was brand new at her job and wasn't properly trained on lifting procedures. She attempted to lift our client out of bed to help her get dressed but dropped her on the floor.
- We've had plenty of cases where employees who drove as part of their jobs---like salespeople or deliverymen---had horrendous driving records but were hired anyhow. Sure enough, they later caused serious car accidents while on the job.
What must be proven to win a negligent hiring case.
This is not a claim for vicarious liability, where a plaintiff can hold an employer responsible for the actions of their employees. There, the focus is mostly on what the employee did. Here, the focus is instead on what the employer knew or should have known about the employee when he or she was hired.
Sometimes, the "standard of care" an employer must live up to is mostly written for us. For example, the federal government requires certain procedures for trucking companies and their new hires. Likewise, the state of Texas requires companies than take care of children to research each new employee's criminal backgrounds for sex crimes, assault, and substance abuse problems. But mostly, we're asking a jury to look at two criteria:
- The nature of the employment: - Was the job one where the employee would be operating potentially unsafe equipment or substances? Would the employee have direct contact with the public or other employees? Would the employee in contact with minors or the incapacitated?
- The extent of the background search prior to employment: - How much effort was put into researching the employee? What did they come up with, if they did a search?
Our job is to show that the combination of these two factors shows that the employer failed his or her most basic duty to only hire a safe and competent employee.
Next, we must show that this negligence directly led to your injury and losses. This is the proximate cause element of your claim. In essence, we are connecting the dots between the employer's bad behavior and what happened to you. In many cases, this is simple---if an employer hired a driver with 3 DWIs, and that driver later drunkenly ran into you, well, there you go. At other times, it will require much more effort.
Attorney Michael Grossman is here to help.
We've litigated countless of these cases, and we've been quite successful. If you've been hurt or lost a loved one, make the call to our attorneys now at (855) 326-0000.
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