When you opened your business here in Louisiana, you probably knew that it could potentially face legal liability from a variety of sources. Every time the company enters into a contract, provides goods or services to customers or lets people in its doors, the possibility exists that someone will file a lawsuit against it.
Another source of potential liability comes from employees. Either employees could take action against your company or their actions can cause someone else to take similar action in the event of an accident.
Your liability to your employees as an employer
More than likely, an employee injured while performing his or her duties for your company will apply for workers' compensation benefits and be satisfied. However, in cases where the injured employee believes the company guilty of neglect, a lawsuit could ensue. Reasons employees would file such claims include the following:
- Lack of safety equipment, training or procedures
- Failure to maintain or repair equipment
- Lack of appropriate oversight
For example, if your company vehicle's brakes required repair, but you failed to get it done and your employee suffered injuries in a crash, you could face legal liability.
Your liability to others as an employer
More often, you will probably end up a defendant in a personal injury or wrongful death claim because of something another party accuses one of your employees of doing. Going back to the car accident scenario, if, during the course of his or her duties, someone accuses one of your company's employees of being at fault in a crash, you could face some liability.
This occurs through the legal concept of vicarious liability, which essentially means that you could be responsible for the actions of your employee. Of course, the other party will need to establish that the individual was in fact on the clock and performing a task on the company's behalf.
Assurance of your liability as an employer is not definite
Just because someone files a complaint against your company, this does not mean that it automatically assumes any legal liability. On the contrary, the company may defend itself just as an individual would. In either case, it will be necessary to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances.
This could involve obtaining documentation regarding the incident, reviewing reports and other records, and perhaps even conducting an accident reconstruction. Once you gather all of the relevant facts, you can explore all of the legal options available.