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John Inserra
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Vicarious Liability of a Third Party in a Worker Compensation Case

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The Nebraska Supreme Court in the case of Didier v Ash Grove Concrete reiterates the rules by which an employer of an independent contractor may be vicariously liable to an injured third party.

As noted above, an employer of an independent contractor is generally not liable for physical harm caused to another by the acts or omissions of the contractor or his servants, but an employer of an independent contractor may be vicariously liable to a third party pursuant to two exceptions, where (1) the employer retains control over the contractor’s work or (2) the employer has a nondelegable duty to protect another from harm. See Ray v. Argos Corp., 259 Neb. 799, 612 N.W.2d 246 (2000). As noted above, nondelegable duties include, but are not limited to (1) the duty of an owner in possession and control of premises to provide a safe place for work by a contractor’s employee, (2) a duty imposed by statute or rule of law, and (3) the duty of due care imposed on an employer of an independent contractor when the contractor’s work involves special risks or dangers, including work that is dangerous in the absence of special precautions. See Parrish v. Omaha Public Power Dist., 242 Neb. 783, 496 N.W.2d 902 (1993).