Proximity, Entrepreneurs and the Employee-Independent Contractor Distinction: Stevens v. Brodribb Sawmilling Co. Pty Ltd
AbstractIn the law of negligence, the importance of establishing an employer-employee relationship as opposed to an employer-independent contractor relationship is twofold. First, an employer owes a personal duty of care to his employees.1 Secondly, an employer may be liable vicariously to third parties for the negligence of his employees. By contrast, an employer's liability for independent contractors has traditionally been very limited. The law has taken the view that independent contractors are skilled persons who should generally be responsible for themselves. In general, employers owed no duty of care to independent contractors and vicarious liability does not attach to a person who engages an independent contractor. Accordingly, one might suspect there to have been numerous cases where employers have avoided liability by successfully classifying the alleged employees as independent contractors. The authorities show otherwise.
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