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The fundamental issue that determines whether a person is legally treated as an employee is the extent to which the person hiring the work may control the details of the work. To illustrate this, consider the situation of hiring a licensed plumber to install a new sink in a physician's office. In this situation, the physician determines what type of sink to install and where to put it, but the plumber determines how to install the sink. If someone is injured because the sink is improperly installed, the physician is not vicariously liable for the plumber's work.

Conversely, assume that the physician hires an unskilled worker to install the sink. The physician tells the worker how to cut the hole for the sink, attach the pipes, and install the garbage disposal. In this situation, the physician would be vicariously liable for an injury caused by the unskilled worker's negligent installation of the sink. There will be vicarious liability when the employer directs the details of the work or has the responsibility for directing the details of the work.

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