How to Sue a Company for Negligence

Employee rights, working conditions requirements, and salary stipulations have all evolved as negligence in these areas has come to light. The International Convention on Economic and Socio-Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and International Labor Organization Conventions have played an integral part in developing modern labor laws to combat that negligence. Business frameworks have vested corporations and organizations with legal personalities, making them viable parties to lawsuits when problems arise. Employees can, therefore, sue their employers in the event of unfair or unsafe work practices. One of the most contested grievances in labor lawsuits is negligence, so it may be important to learn how to sue a company for negligence.

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What Is Negligence in Employment?

Negligence in employment happens when the employer is responsible for damage or injury to an employee due to the employer’s actions or inactions. Employer negligence can also be the vicarious liability of a corporation for damage done to third parties through negligent activities by management during the course of its activities. Negligence in employment, otherwise known as workplace negligence, is usually centered around negligence in the employer-employee relationship and breaches of the employment contract. 

This sort of negligence arises from the acknowledgment that some equipment and practices are necessary to protect employees physically, socially, and psychologically. The required practices and equipment may vary based on the kind of workplace and the employee’s job. These precautionary measures are usually pre-set by contracts of employment, federal and state labor laws, trade union bargaining, or recognized customs of the trade. Each category of conditions has different requirements to qualify for negligence and be enforced by the court. For instance, a breach of a condition stipulated by a trade union agreement with the employer would be filed by the union rather than an individual. Additionally, a breach of a custom of the trade would require evidence that it is indeed a generally accepted custom of the trade before it can be enforced in a court of law.

Reasons for Suing a Company

A person may have at least one of several reasons to sue a company for negligence, including:

  • Negligent hiring; 
  • Negligent retention;
  • Negligent supervision; and
  • Negligent provision.

Negligent hiring

Negligent hiring stipulates that the employer is vicariously responsible for the negligent activities of an employee if the employer was negligent when assessing the skill of the employee during the recruiting process. It is, therefore, considered the employer’s fault if an employee who is unfit for the job injures co-workers or other individuals, has an error-prone record, or shows a considerable risk of exhibiting injurious behavior. 

Negligent retention

Negligent retention is closely related to negligent hiring. In this case, an employee has already been hired by a company but shows reasonable cause for concern that he or she may not be fit for the position after all. If the employer fails to take appropriate disciplinary action or precautionary measures against the employee and damage is done to a colleague or another individual, either by accident or intent, a negligent retention claim could be filed against the employer.

Negligent supervision

Negligent supervision is a situation where an employee or another individual suffers damage in an incident that could have been prevented with proper supervision. To win a case against this type of negligence, one must prove that the situation ordinarily required supervision by a person appointed to do so by the employer and that the supervision was negligently omitted by the employer or negligently carried out. 

Negligent provision

Negligent provision happens when an employee or another individual suffers damage during the course of the company’s work due to the company’s negligent omission of adequate resources, equipment, or insurance necessary to protect from such damage. An example would be a chemical production company negligently failing to provide an employee with protective gear—goggles, gloves, etc.—causing the employee to subsequently suffer burns from handling the chemicals during work

Steps to Build a Claim Against Your Company

Can you sue an employer for negligence? Or, if not your employer, can you sue a company for negligence? When an employee feels that he or she has a grievance or has suffered an injury that is the company’s fault, he or she can build a claim against the company for payment of the damages. Suing your employer for negligence might seem to be a complex procedure. However, if you have good cause, the following steps can help you to build a claim against your company:

  • Collect information;
  • Take legal action;
  • Serve notice; and
  • Settle if possible.

Collect information 

The first and often most important step is for the aggrieved party to collect as much information as possible about the workplace, the injury suffered, any previous similar occurrences in the same workplace, and more. The information and evidence gathered will allow the person to estimate the extent of damages and may increase the claim’s chances of success.

Take legal action

At this point, you may want to consult with a lawyer who specializes in employment and labor practices. Bring the documents that you have gathered to your initial consultation, and the attorney will offer legal advice on how to proceed based on the information you have provided.

Serve notice

When filing a lawsuit against a company for negligence, you must serve the company notice of the intent to bring legal action against the business for the injury suffered due to the negligence or breach of acceptable workplace conditions. An experienced attorney can help with properly executing this step. 

Settle if possible

The settlement process involves a dialogue with the company to discuss an out-of-court settlement or an alternative dispute resolution process. If the parties cannot reach a settlement, the case will go to court, where the totality of the evidence may convince the judge to award damages proportionate to the injury suffered by the employee.

Types of Lawsuits That Can Be Filed Against a Company

There are several kinds of lawsuits that can be filed against a company, depending on the kind of damage suffered and the penalties the plaintiff is seeking. 

Discrimination or harassment 

When a person has suffered discrimination or harassment at the workplace on the basis of color, gender, sexuality, or any other characteristic protected by federal law, that person may have grounds to sue. Physical or sexual harassment or discrimination could take place either during the hiring process or during the course of work. A victim might be required to file an administrative charge first, and after that he or she can file a lawsuit if the outcome is not satisfactory. The final result could be a change in company policy.

Product liability 

In this case, a plaintiff would seek to hold a company liable for a defective or dysfunctional product. The plaintiff is typically a recipient of the product and seeks to have the company recall and replace the product or pay damages for any expenses incurred, or injuries suffered due to the faulty product.

Professional malpractice and negligence

When entrusting services to a professional, a certain level of expertise is expected. Falling short of a reasonable level of expectation for expertise, integrity, and diligence could make the organization or company vulnerable to being sued for professional malpractice or professional negligence. This kind of lawsuit is usually encountered by professionals, including lawyers, doctors, and accountants.

Personal injury

One of the most common types of lawsuits filed against companies is the personal injury lawsuit. When an employee or individual suffers an injury or an aggravation of an existing condition due to the negligent activities of a company, that person may have grounds to file a claim for damages.

Breach of contract

When a company goes against a condition or warranty in a contract of employment or a collective agreement with a trade union or other business contract, the company is considered in breach of contract. Depending on the magnitude of the breach, the other party could claim damages or repudiate the contract as a whole.

What Types of Companies Can Be Liable?

Any company that has been vested with a legal personality can be held liable in a negligence lawsuit. These may include:

  1. Small, medium, and large companies and their licensees;
  2. Non-profit organizations;
  3. Sole business ventures;
  4. Government agencies;
  5. Corporate firms (law firms, auditing firms, etc.);
  6. Educational institutions; and
  7. Medical centers.

How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit Against a Company?

Time limitations are imposed on lawsuits against companies. The statute of limitation varies based on the state and the type of lawsuit. The timeframe starts “when the plaintiff has a complete and present cause for action,” according to the United States Supreme Court. After the lapse of the stipulated time, the action is statutorily barred. When suing a company for negligence, it may help to consult with a business or labor lawyer who will be familiar with the statute of limitations that is relevant to your case. 

How to Win a Lawsuit Against Your Company

To win an action against your company, you must prove your case using the steps listed above. What is needed to succeed in an action against the company will vary depending on the kind of lawsuit and the type of company. For example, a negligence lawsuit requires proof of the existence of a duty of care owed by the company to the plaintiff, a breach of that duty of care, and the actual damage suffered. To maximize your chances of success, consider consulting a skilled business or labor attorney.

Conclusion

The legal system, in the pursuit of justice, has granted you as an individual the power to sue your employer for negligence and hold the company or its leaders accountable for their actions. Any legitimate claims you may have against your company may result in compensation for financial losses, medical bills, or other damages. Additionally, your grievances can be addressed without fear of retaliation. 

Article by Megan Thompson

Megan Thompson is a legal writer at Lawrina. Megan writes about different law practice areas, legal innovations, and shares her knowledge about her legal practice. As a graduate of the American University's Washington College of Law she is an expert of law in Lawrina's team and has a slight editing touch to all content that is published on the website.

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