Thursday, May 5, 2011
If an employee of a business commits an act of negligence that injures another, while conducting the business of that employer, an injury victim may seek to recover damages from the employee that hurt them, or, from the business itself. Many Baltimore personal injury lawsuits are built on this principle, called respondeat superior.
What happens, though, if the person that commits the negligent act is not an employee of business, but rather an independent contractor- doing work for the business, but not actually employed by the business? As a general rule, the business that uses an independent contract to perform work is not liable for the negligence of that contractor, or the negligence of the employees of that contractor. In Appiah v. Hall, the Maryland. Court of Appeals discussed two exceptions to the general rule. One, where the business using the services of a contractor is a possessor of land and allows an unsafe condition to exists on land owned by the business, the business may be liable for personal injury caused by the unsafe condition. Secondly, if the business using the independent contractor retains control over the details and methods of the work, the contractor performs that work negligently, and the very aspect of the work over which control is retained causes a personal injury, that business my be held liable for the negligence of the contractor.