Consistent Successfor Over 25 Years
Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC
Justia Lawyer Rating for Steven M. Sweat
BBB Rating A+
Avvo Rating 10.0 Top Attorney
Top 100 Trial Lawyers
10 Best 2018 Attorney - Client satisfaction
Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum
Super Lawyers - Steven M. Sweat - 10 Years
The State Bar of California
Client Champion Silver 2020
Lead Counsel
Top 10 - Personal Injury Lawyer

Nanny Referral Services Liability in California

Working Mother Leaving Baby With Nanny

Nanny referral services liability in California is something parents should think about. Few parents would bring a stranger into a home to care for their children without knowing more about the person than simply a name, address and date of birth. Background checks, and even credit reports, of prospective nannies and child care workers have become routine for parents. What happens, though, when the information provided by nanny referral services and other companies putting child care workers in touch with parents is incomplete or inaccurate? Parents concerned about the people they are hiring to care for their children should take note of a story concerning the death of an infant, and the efforts his parents are making to establish civil liability against the referral service they used to hire the nanny who killed him.

Putting Faith in Referral Services for Child Care

A wrongful death lawsuit filed against a popular website that matches child care workers with families has raised questions about just how dependable such agencies are when it comes to checking on the people it places in homes (See story here). The agency in question, , advertised the availability of caregivers of all types including:

  • Child care
  • Senior and adult care
  • Home care

According to the lawsuit that seeks to establish civil liability against the nanny referral service, a nanny hired by a couple through the website to care for their 4-month-old son inflicted a head injury that from which the child died. The nanny was convicted of child abuse and sentenced to 70 years in prison in connection with the killing.

The parents claim that they relied upon the company operating the website to provide someone who was qualified for the position. Their lawsuit also allege that the background check for which they paid the company failed to disclose that the woman they ultimately hired had previously been convicted of driving while intoxicated. The parents said they would not have hired the nanny had they been made aware of the conviction.

Establishing Civil Liability

It is possible to hold an employer responsible for the actions of an employee under California Law through the theory of vicarious liability. Someone harmed through the conduct of another person might be able to sue that person’s employer for compensation for having negligently hired, supervised or retained the worker.

Proving vicarious liability requires a party who has suffered an injury, or the family of some whose death was caused by a worker, to prove the following in order to establish liability on the part of the employer:

  • The worker was unfit or was not competent to perform the work for which the person was hired;
  • The employer knew or should have known of the worker’s incompetence or of the worker not being fit for the job;
  • The employer knew or should have known that the worker being unfit or incompetent posed a risk to others;
  • The party filing the lawsuit, or a member of the party’s family in cases where the victim died, suffered harm due to the conduct of the employee; and
  • The negligent hiring, supervision or retention of the worker substantially contributed to the harm.

Applying California Law To Child Care Workers

The parents of the child killed by the nanny might have a difficult time proving vicarious liability against a nanny referral service website that connected prospective employers with potential employees. Under California law, holding the website company liable would require proof that the website hired, supervised or retained the child care worker.

An agency that actually interviews, screens and then hires a child care worker for placement in a home as a nanny might find itself liable if the worker causes injury to a child. As the employer, a claim for damages based upon the vicarious liability of a worker might be made against it.

Seeking Legal Advice

As tragic as the story of the infant killed by the nanny might be, it might be a case of negligent hiring, retention or supervision of a worker that would impose liability on the employer. Other theories of negligence, such as the failure of the background check to disclose a criminal conviction, might offer the parents a means of establishing liability against the referral service.

Vicarious liability and negligent hiring laws can be complex. Consulting with an attorney who is knowledgeable and skilled in the area of vicarious liability might be the best source of legal advice and guidance for anyone who has been harmed through the negligent conduct of someone whose services were obtained through a third party.

Client Reviews
I have known Steven for some time now and when his services were required he jumped in and took control of my cases. I had two and they were handled with the utmost professionalism and courtesy. He went the extra mile regardless of the bumps in the road. I can not see me using any other attorney and I would recommend him to any of my family and friends. Josie A.
Steven was vital during our most trying time. He was referred by a friend after an accident that involved a family member. While he was critical and lying in the hospital, Steven was kind, patient and knowledgeable about what we were going through. Following our loss, Steven became a tough and aggressive negotiator and made sure that we receive a huge compensation. I would refer Steven in fact, this happened 2 years ago and I still speak highly of his service. Cheryl S.
Mr. Sweat is a pitbull in the courtroom as well as settlement negotiations - You can't have a better equipped attorney in your corner! It is a pleasure working as colleagues together on numerous cases. He can get the job done. Jonathan K.
Because of Steven Sweat, my medical support was taken care of. Plus, I had more money to spare for my other bills. Steven is not only an excellent personal injury lawyer, providing the best legal advice, but also a professional lawyer who goes beyond his call of duty just to help his clients! He stood up for me and helped me get through the process. I would definitely recommend. I couldn't think of any better lawyer than him. MiraJane C.
I must tell anyone, if you need a great attorney, Steve sweat is the guy! I had an awful car accident and had no idea where to turn. He had so much to deal with because my accident was a 4 car pile up. Not to mention all the other cars were behind me and they were not wanting to settle in any way! He never stopped working for me and had my best interest at heart! Audra W.
I believe I made the best choice with Steven M Sweat, Personal Injury. I was very reluctant to go forward with my personal injury claim. I had a valid claim and I needed a professional attorney to handle it. I felt so much better when I let Steven take my case. His team did everything right and I am very satisfied. Stia P.
I have to say that Steve has been exemplary! I met Steve at a point with my case that I was ready to give up. He took the time and dealt with all of my concerns. Most importantly, he was present and listened to what I was going through. He was able to turn things around, put me and my case on the right track! The results were better that expected! Highly recommend!! Cody A.