Vicarious Liability Laws

Common sense seems to suggest that only the people who commit illegal acts will be held responsible in court. This, however, is not always the case.

In a personal injury lawsuit, the employers of wrongdoers may also be held accountable for actions by negligent employees. This legal theory is often referred to as vicarious liability.

While vicarious liability for employers may be the most common form of this legal idea, vicarious liability may also extend to other relationships between subordinates and their superiors, such as parents and their children.

Vicarious Liability as an Employer

Employers are often vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their employees when the employees are acting within the scope of their employment.

The theory behind this rule is that employers will more carefully regulate the actions of their workers if they are held responsible for the employees' actions.

Vicarious liability may come into play in the event of a medical malpractice lawsuit, if a doctor failed to adequately supervise a subordinate, or a car accident lawsuit, if a truck driver's employer failed to properly train the driver.

Other features of vicarious liability amongst employers include:

  • Deeper pockets. Plaintiffs often sue employers because they may be able to pay larger settlements than their employees.
  • Exceptions. Usually, employers are not legally responsible if a subordinate commits assault or battery while on the job, unless the use of force was an integral part of their employment.
  • Independent contractors. As a general rule, companies that employ independent contractors are usually not vicariously liable for negligent actions by the contractor.

Vicarious liability is a common legal concern for employers. To learn more about vicarious liability, connect with a local attorney for a free consultation by filling out the form below:

Other Forms of Vicarious Liability

In addition to vicarious liability for employers, other people who may be subject to liability as a third party include:

  • Principals. An example of principal liability may occur if a person lends their car to someone, and the driver hurts another person in an accident. In such a case, the owner of the car may be held partially or wholly liable.
  • Parents. If a child injures someone, parents may be held liable if a child was improperly supervised. For example, a failure to keep a handgun out of the reach of the child could be a source of vicarious liability.

For more information on the complexities of third party liability, contact a local injury attorney today.

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