Negligence and Vicarious Liability – Case Study Example

The paper "Negligence and Vicarious Liability" is a brilliant example of a case study on law. In law, vicarious liability applies in the case where an employee acts in negligence or omission in the course of performing duties that are within the scope of their employment (Laski 1916). This kind of liability falls under the doctrine of respondeat superior. An act is deemed to be within the precincts of employment if it is authorized or somehow linked with an act that is authorized in such a manner that it may be considered wrong or improper mode of doing it. In principle, an employer is held responsible for the negligent acts of his/her employer in the course of duty since the employee at this point acts as their employer’s agent. Negligence encompasses the failure to take reasonable care in handling a situation as would be expected in similar circumstances as noted by Deakin, Angus, and Basil (2003). In order to establish the existence of negligence in a case, there must be a duty, breach, and damage caused by carelessness (Hopkins, 2009). 

Seamus and William’s Injury Claims
In any working environment, the employer has a vital obligation of making sure that all the employees are safe. The employer is meant to protect all the workers in avoiding any injuries that may happen. Similarly, the employer should give clear information on the health of the employees, the safety issues and how they should conduct their activities (Elias & Levinkind, 2007: p, 38). Mike’s duty was to clean and not to drive forklifts. In accepting to drive the forklift for Tony, Mike breaches the law in that he performs an activity that he is not qualified to do in the workplace. He acts out of carelessness in accepting to perform an activity not suitable for him. In Armagas Limited v Mundogas S.A. [1986], vicarious liability based on the fact that the employees acted in line of their duty in committing negligent acts and omissions. In this particular case, Seamus is injured in an accident that happened due to the negligence of his two co-workers during working hours and on the company’s premises. Similarly, in Panorama Developments (Guildford) Limited v Fidelis Furnishing Fabrics Limited [1971], it was held that the fraudulent hiring of vehicles by a company secretary without the knowledge of the CEO led to the employer’s liability. In this respect, management does not have to be aware of Mike’s and Tony’s actions to assume responsibility for the damages caused to William. Since the accident occurs at the workplace and in the course of Mike’s duty, his employer is liable with respect to vicarious liability. In this case, Seamus has the right to make a claim against his employer based on vicarious liability and should be compensated for the damages incurred thus.
William’s accident
In establishing the presence or absence of negligence, duty, breach, and damage have to be considered. Furthermore, in establishing the existence of vicarious liability, the aforementioned factors (negligence, duty, breach, and damage) have to be confirmed (Hopkins, 2009). One of the things that may exempt an employer from liability arising due to their agents’ misdeeds is the non-use of required safety devices by the injured. It may be argued in this case that it is due to the non-use of safety devices that led to injuries that otherwise would have been avoided.
Since Jerry had done all the work of the day, he was to return the van back to the workplace other than going to pick up his daughter. After making the last deliveries, the accident occurred. Jerry, therefore, embarked on a personal duty with his employer’s van. The accident was caused by negligence which means that he was careless in performing his duty as a qualified driver. The damage is noted in that William gets injured during the accident even though he is not wearing a seatbelt. Due to the fact that the accident happened while Jerry was on personal duty, the employer does not become vicariously liable as noted by Hopkins (2009: p 35).
In this case, the employer is not vicariously liable for the damages caused by the driver since under normal circumstances the van driver in the knowledge of the employer is not at work after making the final deliveries or after hours. In McWilliams (or Cummings) v Sir William Arrol & Co. Ltd [1962], it is legally established that failure to wear safety devices by an employee or injured person exempt the employer from vicarious liability. In this sense, the injured failed to wear a safety belt that could have prevented his injury. The van driver, in this case, assumes personal liability for his negligence while William may not make a claim for damages since he did not wear a safety device as required by law.

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