When Can Maryland Independent Contractors Be Held Personally Liable?

When filing a legal claim against an independent contractor after a Maryland accident, an independent contractor may claim that they cannot be held independently liable. Maryland courts have recognized that there are times in which independent contractors are also agents of another, often reliving them of independent liability. However, that is not always the case, and the party that claims there is a principal-agent relationship must prove the existence of such a relationship.

In a recent state appellate case, the court considered whether a personal trainer was an agent of a gym. In that case, the plaintiff was using a weight machine when she fractured a bone in her hand, requiring her to undergo two surgeries. She was under the direction of a personal trainer at the time she injured her hand, and she claimed the personal trainer improperly instructed her on how to use the machine, thereby causing her injury. The plaintiff brought a claim against the gym and the trainer, who had been contracted by the gym. The trainer argued that she was an agent of the gym, and could not be held independently liable because the gym had hired her to teach there. In contrast, the plaintiff argued the personal trainer was not an agent of the gym because she was an independent contractor there.

The court explained that there are circumstances in which a person may be an independent contractor and an agent of the principal. It explained that these circumstances exist where a contractor is a fiduciary that owes the principal loyalty and obedience. Examples of this include attorneys, brokers, and collection agencies. But in cases in which an independent contractor claims to be an agent, the independent contractor must establish the characteristics of the principal-agent relationship, including the principal’s right to control the physical conduct of the agent. In this case, there was not sufficient evidence that the trainer was an agent of the gym to dismiss the case against the trainer. Therefore, the court held that the case should continue against the trainer and that a jury would be required to resolve the issue.

Principal-Agent Relationships in Maryland

In Maryland, whether a principal-agent relationship exists depends on the intentions of the parties, as evidenced by their agreements or actions. Under Maryland law, in determining whether a principal-agent relationship exists, courts consider:

  • Whether the agent has the power to change the legal relations of the principal,
  • Whether the agent has a duty to act primarily for the principal’s benefit, and
  • Whether the principal has the right to control the agent.

These determinations are fact-specific, and anyone who believes they were injured due to the negligence of an independent contractor should reach out to a dedicated Maryland injury lawyer for immediate assistance.

Contact a Maryland Accident Lawyer

If you are considering filing a claim against an independent contractor or against another type of defendant in a Maryland slip and fall accident, contact an experienced accident lawyer to evaluate your case. The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, have more than 20 years of experience representing the rights of residents in the Baltimore area in all types of claims, including car accidents, truck crashes and claims of medical malpractice. Their attorneys have the resolve and the resources to pursue all responsible parties for your loss. Fill out a contact form online or call them at 800-654-1949 to schedule a free consultation.

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