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Employers vicarious liability insurance definition. Public liability professional indemnity insurance small business insurance brokers compare and what is professional indemnity insurance?

Vicarious Liability

'Vicarious' means 'acting or done for another' -  'Liability' means 'under legal obligation'

The principle of vicarious liability makes one person to blame for the careless acts of another. Vicarious Liability occurs when an employer is responsible for the actions of their employee because the employee is acting within the instructions of their employment. 

If a negligence claim arises, the employer is vicariously liable for that action and the employee is not. This is why Public Liability Insurance is an important factor when it comes to the Security Industry.

Workplace Negligence and the Issue of Vicarious Liability

The issue of vicarious liability is part of the reason why it is so important for security officers to know and follow the instructions of their employers. It is the reason that some well-known security companies take care in the way in which they train and instruct their security guards and crowd controllers.

Security Officers protect themselves from being personally liable for damages by following the instructions of their security company employers.

It is vital that a Standing Operating Procedure manual be available for each post you work in. A Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) manual describes a timetable of events on your shift as well as actions for handling any incidents. Many security guards and crowd controllers proceed to a job with only the barest of instructions. These instructions are mostly verbal instructions.

When an incident occurs, we all think we know how to handle it. If your SOP describes a remedy and you follow it then any liability for damages or injury is your employer's responsibility. Your employer must defend the case in court. If your security company is careless in the way they trained you to handle this incident then they are liable for any costs for the damage or injury.

This is why most security companies have Public Liability Insurance to cover the costs of fighting a court case. If the security company is found guilty of negligence, then the Public Liability Insurance company compensates the victim.

Public Liability Insurance

Some security businesses do not have Public Liability Insurance because it is an extra cost of the business. Where profit margins are vital, contactors avoid this cost. If a business is incorporated, that is they are a Proprietary Limited (Pty Ltd or P/L after their name) company, this means that the security company's liabilities are limited to the shareholders funds.

In the case of most security businesses, this is very small amount. They work on the assumption that the company, if found negligent in a civil case, can only loose the value of the assets of the company. None of the directors of the company is personably liable for the costs. That means that the court cannot order the directors to make good the costs from their personal assets i.e. house, car, boat or shares.

An incident occurs and there is damage to property and/or personal injury and you are responsible through your action or no action. Are you personally to blame and therefore liable for any damages?

If you followed your employer's instructions laid down in writing in SOPs then the security company is liable. If he told you in words what the procedures were, then he can refute what you said he said. This will give the lawyers acting on behalf of the injured party to go after you for compensation.

 This is because you operated outside the employer's instruction. This means if you are liable for the cost of damages, your property will be sold up to provide payment to the injured party.

Do you work as a crowd controller? Does your employer provide crowd controllers for duties at licensed premises? There is a chance your employer does not have Public Liability Insurance. It is hard to find any Public Liability insurer willing to cover the employer in this position.

Other crowd control venues such as concerts and shows are covered. Make sure your restraint techniques are legal, you have excellent anger control and do not have any property registered in your name.

Public Liability Insurers:  DMA Insurance Brokers Winsure Insurance Group

Vicarious Liability Court Cases

The links to the court cases below give some indication why it is hard for Security Companies to get Public Liability Insurance for Crowd Control operations. The issue of vicarious liability is a difficult one. If you have a view on any issues on this page make a post to the Forum.

Brent Fuz testified that there were over fifteen people outside the nightclub,which included two persons who were wearing black clothing. He observed that these two men were preventing some of the people from entering the nightclub. He had seen his sister enter and return back outside the nightclub. He testified that his sister attempted regain entry and was denied because the crowd controllers thought her identity was falsified.

Brent Fuz then queried this with one of the crowd controllers as to the fact why his sister was refused entry into the nightclub. During the course of conversation which followed, he admitted that used strong language which included "the f word". He testified that during this discussion, he was standing on the staircase to the nightclub.

He then turned to talk to his younger brother and received two or three large blows by a fist to the back of his head. He then turned around and received another blow. His next recollection of events was of lying in a hospital bed.

There was no challenge by the crowd controller to the assault occurring. The plaintiff, Brent Fuz, landed with this head striking the foot of the stairs.

The Judge assessed cost of damages owed to Mr Fuz totalling $573,519. The crowd controller was found liable for one fifth of damages as well as being charged for assault. The remaining share of damage cost were divided amongst the other companies and individuals who had an financial interest in the nightclub.

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