Sometimes when a person is injured as a result of someone else’s conduct,it’s easy to identify the proper defendant. In other cases, however, it’s a much more complicated task. Under the law of most states – Missouri and Illinois included –
there are a number of laws which require an attorney to consider whether other individuals or companies should be added as defendants when preparing a lawsuit.
One basic concept is the law of agency. In its most basic form, the law of agency is that if a person is an agent of another (the principal), then in certain cases the principal is held responsible for the conduct of the agent. A person can be anyof several types of agent.
A principal is liable for the acts of an actual agent, which is a person authorized by the principal to act on his behalf. A principal is also liable for the acts of an apparent agent. If a third party – such as someone injured – reasonably believes that a person is an agent of a principal, based in some way on the conduct of the principal, then the person is an apparent agent. Finally, an inherent agent is one that has the power to make a principal liable for acts performed on the principal’s account that usually accompany the transactions the agent is authorized to conduct.
In addition a company can be responsible for the damages caused by a person it negligently hired or retained. In a negligent hiring case, the injured person makes a claim against an employer who knew or should have known that the person it hired was dangerous or untrustworthy. In a negligent retention case, the injured person makes a claim against an employer who failed to remove an employee from a position of responsibility after becoming aware that the employee was misusing his authority in a way that poses a danger to others.
It is important for a lawyer to consider all of the options available to an injured person when preparing a claim. If not, it is possible that a company which should share in the responsibility will not be held accountable. And this could prevent the injured person from receiving full compensation.