An overview of "vicarious liability" under Texas law:
In the normal personal injury scenario, person A acts negligently and injures person B. Under those circumstances, it's very clear who the wrongdoer is, and the victim has a very straightforward claim against the wrongdoer and only the wrongdoer.
But not every accident is so straight-forward. In some cases, the wrongdoer acts in concert with someone else. In other cases, some parental or authoritative figure exercises control over their ward or agent, thereby making the actions of the one in control somewhat inseparable from those who are being controlled. Further, sometimes a person aides and abeds the misconduct of a friend or relative. In all of these instances, the primary bad actor is not the only one who is held liable.
On the contrary, the person who controls them or with whom they collude is also held liable. This is the very essence of "vicarious liability." In this article we'll look at vicarious liability, explain what it is, how it works, and how an experienced personal injury attorney can help you with your case.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- How does vicarious liability work under Texas law?
- What are some examples of vicarious liability?
- What conditions make vicarious liability applicable to a case?
What is vicarious liability?
Vicarious liability is a legal concept that holds certain third parties liable for the injuries caused by another. For example, if you are in a car accident that is caused by the negligence of another person, then the other driver (the "first-party defendant") will be liable for the personal injuries that you sustain as a result of the accident.
However, in certain situations, a third party defendant may also be vicariously liable to you for your injuries. These third parties were not physically present at the accident, did not directly cause the accident, but nonetheless are considered legally responsible for the injuries you suffered.
Naturally, the idea that someone else can be liable for someone else's misconduct is unsettling. We live in a world where people are answerable for their own mistakes, not others, typically. As such, the law only ever imposes vicarious liability on a person or business under fairly abnormal circumstances, usually stemming from the fact that the third party exercises control over the wrongdoer.
Nevertheless, vicarious liability is most commonly found (in injury law) in a few specific scenarios which we'll cover below.
Vicarious liability in the employer/employee context.
One of the most common ways that vicarious liability arises is in the employer/employee context. Vicarious liability arises here when an employee injures someone while acting in the course of his or her employment. If that happens, then the employer is vicariously liable for the injuries caused by the employee.
For example, imagine an employee is a delivery driver, and while he is out making a delivery, he negligently crashes into you. Not only will the delivery driver be liable to you for your injuries, but because the accident occurred while he was working, his employer would also be liable for your injuries. However, there are some instances where liability will not be this clear cut.
If the driver was not acting within the course of his employment at the time of the accident, then his employer will not be vicariously liable for your injuries. For instance, if instead of making a delivery at the time of the accident the delivery driver was on lunch break and driving to a restaurant, his employer may not be vicariously liable for your injuries.
Vicarious liability in the parent/child context.
Another common area where vicarious liability comes up is with children under the age of eighteen. When someone under the age of eighteen is engaged in an act that causes a personal injury, their parents are likely liable for the injury. For example, if a sixteen year old is driving the family car on an errand for his parents and negligently causes a car accident and injures someone, his parents are likely going to be liable for the injuries. Parents are can also be liable for intentional injuries caused by their children.
You need an experienced attorney to help you determine your rights.
Because of the intricacy that can be involved in determining which parties are liable for your personal injury, you should hire an attorney that is experienced in personal injury claims to help you determine your rights under the law. Grossman Law Offices has over two decades of experience and has helped hundreds of clients in their personal injury cases.
If you have been the victim of a personal injury call one of our attorneys for a free consultation regarding your personal injury claim at (855) 326-0000.
Other articles about personal injury cases that may be helpful:
- Pain and Suffering Damages Don't Work Quite Like You Think They Do
- Getting Reimbursed For Medical Expenses Related to an Injury
- What Damages Are Available in a Texas Personal Injury Case?