What is vicarious liability?

If you drive regularly and pay attention to the vehicles around you, then you may be surprised at the number of business owned cars and trucks on the road. The individuals who are behind the wheels of those vehicles drive as part of their employment, but that doesn’t mean that they are any safer than your average, everyday motorist. They can be distracted, tired and even intoxicated, putting themselves and others at risk of being harmed in a serious car accident. When this happens and damages are suffered by an innocent individual, legal action may be appropriate.

However, an accident caused by an employee may open up more options for victims to recover the compensation they deserve. This reality can be attributed to the legal theory of vicarious liability. Under vicarious liability, an employer can be held liable for the actions of his or her employees. What does this mean for an accident victim? It means that he or she may be able to sue both the driver and his or her employer, thereby allowing him or her to have access to deeper pockets that may be better suited to paying for the full extent of one’s damages.

In order to succeed on a vicarious liability claim, a victim must prove certain elements. First, the plaintiff must show that the employee was on the clock at the time of the accident. Second, the victim must satisfactorily prove that his or her injuries were the result of a duty that falls within the employee’s scope of work. Lastly, the victim must prove that the employer was benefitting from the work being conducted at the time of the accident.

Of course, in order to win on a personal injury claim the victim will have to prove negligence and causation, but once a case for those elements is firmly established, then vicarious liability can be addressed. It is worth noting that proving these elements can be challenging, often requiring the skilled use of evidence, witness testimony, and competent cross-examination of the defense’s witnesses. Thus, many accident victims pursuing a vicarious liability claim find it beneficial to have a strong legal advocate on their side.