California Negligent Hiring of Independent Contractor

Under the negligent hiring exception to the general rule of nonliability, a hirer "who negligently fails to employ a competent and careful contractor may be liable for injuries caused by the contractor's failure to exercise due care." Chevron v. Superior Court (1992) 4 Cal. App. 4th 544, 549; Grahn v. Tosco Corp. (1997) 58 Cal. App. 4th 1373, 1390; Golden v. Conway (1976) 55 Cal. App. 3d 948, 956-957, 128 Cal. Rptr. 69; Risley v. Lenwell (1954) 129 Cal. App. 2d 608, 622-625, 277 P.2d 897; Holman v. State of California (1975) 53 Cal. App. 3d 317, 336, 124 Cal. Rptr. 773; see also Rest.2d Torts, 411; Wilson v. Good Humor Corp. (D.C. Cir. 1985) 244 U.S. App. D.C. 298, 757 F.2d 1293, 1309; SeaRiver Maritime, Inc. v. Industrial Medical Services, Inc. (N.D.Cal. 1997) 983 F. Supp. 1287, 1296. Thus, "'quite apart from any question of vicarious responsibility, the hirer may be liable for any negligence of his own in connection with the work to be done. Where there is a foreseeable risk of harm to others unless precautions are taken, it is his duty to exercise reasonable care to select a competent contractor .... In this case, he is liable for his personal negligence, rather than that of the contractor.'" (Risley v. Lenwell, supra, 129 Cal. App. 2d at p. 622.) The hirer's duty to select a competent and careful independent contractor has been held to extend to the employees of the negligently hired independent contractor, permitting them to sue the hirer for on-the-job injuries caused by the independent contractor's lack of due care. (Grahn v. Tosco Corp., supra, 58 Cal. App. 4th at p. 1390; Chevron v. Superior Court, supra, 4 Cal. App. 4th at p. 549, 5 Cal. Rptr. 2d 674; Gettemy v. Star House Movers (1964) 225 Cal. App. 2d 636, 643-644, 37 Cal. Rptr. 441; Holman v. State of California, supra, 53 Cal. App. 3d at p. 336, 124 Cal. Rptr. 773.)