Running a successful business is difficult enough without encountering legal issues from misconduct or negligence by your employees. Unfortunately, employers can be liable, or legally responsible, for the actions of their employees in Colorado.

If one of your employees makes a mistake such as harassing someone or negligently causing a personal injury, you could be legally on the hook. Here is what you need to know about an employer’s vicarious liability in Colorado.

The definition of vicarious liability

This type of liability refers to one person’s legal responsibility for the actions of another. The basis for vicarious liability in the workplace is the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, Latin for “let the master answer.”

In Colorado, vicarious liability laws apply to most workplaces. Under these laws, employers may be liable for the actions of their employees if those employees were performing work-related tasks at the time of the incident.

You could encounter legal trouble if one of your employees was negligent or reckless, and if this misconduct caused someone else’s personal injuries or death in Denver. Additionally, your employee could face individual liability if he or she was guilty of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

Protecting yourself from liability

Exceptions to the vicarious liability rule exist. For example, you may avoid responsibility for an employee’s actions if that employee was acting independently from your company, with personal motives. If the employee attacked a co-worker while not on the clock, for example, you most likely would not be liable for damages.

You may be able to protect yourself from liability for an employee’s actions by engaging in reasonable hiring and training procedures. Being careful of whom you hire can build a workforce of responsible and dependable employees who avoid major incidents. Focusing on proper training, implementing safety protocols and creating an employee handbook with rules for how to deal with disputes or harassment can also help you prevent issues before they occur.