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What is Vicarious Liability in Personal Injury Law?

Vicarious liability refers to a situation wherein one party is partly liable or responsible for the unlawful behavior or conduct of a 3rd party which also is responsible for their share of said liabilities.  Vicarious liability arises in situations where one individual is supposed to have control over and be responsible for the actions of a 3rd party and is negligent in exercising that control and upholding that responsibility.

For example, an employer might be held responsible or liable for an employee’s unlawful actions such as discrimination or harassment on the job.  Additionally, an employer could be held responsible for an employee who carelessly operates a piece of equipment or machinery in a negligent manner and damages the property or injures another employee.

Examples of Vicarious Liability

If a construction worker doesn’t operate a crane safely and it knocks down the wall of an adjacent building that wasn’t supposed to be worked on, the company supervising the construction may be held vicariously liable for damages to the other structure.  If an engineer loses control while operating a locomotive and continues traveling down the tracks on its own, the company that operates and owns the train could face vicarious liability for any personal injuries or property damages caused by the runaway locomotive.

Although the employer, in either case, was not the one who mishandled the controls on the crane or lost control of the locomotive, they’ll be held liable for the employee’s actions.  Employers are supposed to limit and/or prevent any dangerous or harmful acts by their employees.  By exercising reasonable care and preventing such behavior, employers can avoid vicarious liability. Most of the cases that are handled by personal injury lawyers in Florida deal with some form of negligence and careless behavior that led to accidents.

Additional Considerations

There are other sources of vicarious liability as well, such as when a child behaves or acts negligently.  In this case, the parent would be held vicariously liable for their child’s behavior.  An example of this would be when a child injures or kills another person while driving a vehicle.  The parents could be held responsible for allowing the child to drive the vehicle.

As compared to Direct Liability

Direct liability refers to situations wherein a company or individual is liable to another based on their actions or omission.  In terms of personal injury law, it is the basis of an insurer paying on a claim.  In other words, the insurance company will only pay for injuries or property damages if the insured business or individual is directly liable.

To learn more about vicarious liability, call the Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group today at (772) 569-8155.

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