Agency and Employer Liability

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What Is Agency?

Legal Glossary: Agency and Employer Liability

Agency, in legal terms, is a relationship where one person, the agent, is authorized to act on behalf of another person, known as the principal, either in business matters or other transactions.

It can also be referred to as employee-employer relationship and respondeat superior, in Latin. These terms are used somewhat interchangeably and it means an employer or a company can be held responsible for the actions of their individual employees.

Andrew Kryder, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer, Explains Agency

Meet Andy Kryder, a skilled personal injury attorney known for his ability to simplify legal concepts, making them easy to grasp. “We’re going to discuss a few terms, give some examples, and try to explain each of those different concepts so that you can easily understand them,” he begins.

Who Are the Two Main Players in Agency and Employer?

Andy explains that there are two main players in the agency relationship: the principal and the agent.

The Principal

“One way to think about the principle,” he tells us, “is the person who’s in charge. They’re giving direction. They’re giving orders.”

The Agent

“The agent,” on the other hand, “is the person who’s receiving those orders, and then fulfilling those orders,” Andy says.

“The principle is usually the boss, the agent usually the employee,” Andy summarizes, “one is directing the other, and one is receiving those directions, and then carrying them out.”

What Happens If the Agent Is Negligent?

The law holds employers responsible for the actions of its employees while they are on the job. Andy explains, “If those directions are carried out in a negligent fashion, then the principle can be held responsible for the actions of the agent.”

Examples of Agency

Andy’s examples of agents are: “A doctor might be an agent of the hospital, a truck driver might be an agent of the company that they’re driving for, a construction worker operating equipment on a construction site might be an agent of the construction company, a police officer might be an agent of the police department.”

Basically, Andy tells us, “If the agent messes up or is negligent in some way, then the principle can be held accountable for the actions of the agent.”

What Is the Difference Between an Agent and an Independent Contractor?

According to Illinois Law, an independent contractor, unlike an agent, operates on their own and does not follow the direct orders of a principal. The principal generally does not bear liability for the contractor’s actions.

Andy points out, the difference between an employee and an independent contractor, “usually centers around whether the principal has . . . control over the person.” If the principal has control, they are an employee or an agent. If the principal does not control the person and there is a distinct line separating the the two of them, “That person could be an independent contractor.”

When Is an Employer Liable for an Employee’s Negligence?

In essence, an employer can be held liable for an employee’s negligence if the employee was acting within the scope of their employment and was directed by the employer when the negligent act occurred.

When Is an Employer NOT Liable for an Employee’s Negligence?

Independent contractors operate on their own, not under the direct control or orders of the employer, and therefore, the employer is not typically liable for their actions. Andy stresses, the operant question is, “Did the person have the freedom to do the work or whatever was required on their own, or did they have to take the direction from the director or the principal?”

What Do I Do If I have Been Injured Due to Someone Else’s Negligence?

If you have been injured through no fault of your own due to someone else’s negligence, it is important to seek legal guidance right away. Call an experienced personal injury attorney from The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.

Agency and Employer Liability
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