Understanding Vicarious Liability

If you are hurt in an accident, it is logical to file a claim against the person who caused the accident. In many cases, this is your only option to receive compensation for your injuries. In some cases, you can file a claim against the person who caused the accident as well as someone else who may have been supervising them or was otherwise in charge of the at-fault person’s actions.

If you file a claim against someone who supervised the person who caused the accident, this claim is known as a vicarious liability claim. If you have legal questions, then it is important that you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney. 

What is Vicarious Liability?

Vicarious liability is a liability that is imposed by law to hold someone liable for harm caused by someone else. For vicarious liability to exist, there must be a special relationship between the parties. Typically, there is a party that is deemed superior over the other party because of authority or control. In Latin, vicarious liability is known as respondeat superior, which means “that the master must answer.” 

Some common examples where vicarious liability exists involve relationships such as:

  • A parent and their child
  • An employer and their employee 
  • A vehicle owner and the vehicle driver
  • A principal and their agent

Only special relationships like the ones listed above can give rise to a vicarious liability claim. 

When Can Vicarious Liability Occur?

Vicarious liability can occur when it is shown that an individual has authority or control over another. If an individual has authority over an employee, then the individual can be held liable for the employee’s actions. The more control is shown over a subordinate, the more likely a vicarious liability claim can be successful.

If the subordinate was doing their job when an accident occurred, then the employer can be held liable under vicarious liability for any harm caused by the subordinate. If the subordinate caused harm on their time off when they were not working, then the employer is unlikely to face vicarious liability. It is important to determine how and when an accident occurred to see if a vicarious liability claim can be filed.

Examples of Vicarious Liability

The following are some common examples of vicarious liability claims:

  • If a truck driver causes an accident which causes injuries. If you are hit by a truck driver, then you may be able to hold the trucking company that employs them responsible for the accident. You can also file a direct claim against the truck driver for your injuries. 
  • If a factory worker harms someone by using machinery negligently, then the factory might face a vicarious liability claim for the factory worker’s conduct. The injury victim can also file a claim against the factory worker directly.
  • If a manager of a company discriminates against an employee, then the company can face a vicarious liability claim. The manager can also face a direct claim for discrimination.

These are just some of the ways that a vicarious liability claim can arise. If you have questions about your case, then make sure you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney.

Why Vicarious Liability Exists

Vicarious liability is legal liability that is meant to promote public safety and hold companies responsible for the actions of their employees. A big corporation is in a much better position to compensate injury victims than their employees are. 

Under vicarious liability, employees should not have to bear the risk of their jobs entirely on their own. In the truck driver example, the truck driver would not have been there had it not been for their employment with the trucking company. 

When people are harmed by employees of a company, vicarious liability holds companies responsible. Because of vicarious liability, companies take additional measures to ensure that their employees do their jobs safely. When companies do this, then fewer people are harmed overall, which helps promote public safety.

An experienced attorney can help you understand all of your potential legal options if you are hurt in an accident.  If you think you might have a vicarious liability case, consult an accident attorney for legal advice. Contact us or call (727) 796-8282 today.