Vicarious Liability In Personal Injury Cases

Vicarious liability in injury cases refers to a situation where one person injures another and a non actor third party can be liable to the injured party. This often arises in an employee/employer situation. For instance, lets say you are injured in a car accident as a result of a negligent truck driver. Under some circumstances, the truck driver’s employer may also be held responsible for your injuries. This principle is known in the law as vicarious liability. An employer may be held vicariously liable for tortious acts committed by an employee if the act occurred within the scope of the employer/employee relationship. As you can imagine, all sorts of scenarios might occur where the issue of whether or an employees conduct actually falls under that employees’ scope of employment. As a general rule, a minor deviation from the employee’s employment role will still hold the employer responsible. Intentional torts committed by employees such as a battery are generally considered not to be within the scope of employment. In addition to vicarious liability, employers can also be held liable for their own negligence by neglecting to supervise employees or in selecting employees. This is different than vicarious liability.

Situations Where Vicarious Liability Does Not Apply

There are several circumstances where people might initially believe vicarious liability would apply, but in truth does not. Here are just a few of such examples:

  • Owner of Automobile – An owner of a vehicle who lends a car to another driver is not liable for a subsequent accident and injury unless the jurisdiction of the accident has a family car doctrine or permissive use statute.
  • Parent – A parent is not vicariously liable for a child’s negligent acts unless there is some statutory basis of liability for willful and intentional torts. However, if the child is acting as an agent for the parent, there could be and imposition of liability.
  • Bartender – A bartender or tavern keeper is not vicariously liable for a drunk driver’s accident or some other type of alcohol related incident unless the applicable state has a Dramshop Act stating such. The truth is many states in fact have these types of laws so most bartenders could be liable. Additionally, some states have laws that extend to home owners who provide alcohol hosting a party at their residence that results in alcohol related injuries.

How Vicarious Liability is Applied

Vicarious liability mostly comes up in cases involving serious injuries and the only way for the injured plaintiff to be fully compensated is to seek damages against a person’s employer. This often comes up where are car accident is involved and the driver was working at the time in a company vehicle. You may have been inured under these or similar circumstances. If so, we would be happy to provide a free case review and determine if vicarious liability applies or who is responsible for your injuries.

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