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Vicarious Liability: The Legal Responsibility of Employers

Vicarious liability typically arises in situations where the individual "at fault" was on-the-job when the accident occurred. If a truck driver was working when they caused a traffic wreck, for example, then their employer would be vicariously liable. Likewise, a hospital would be considered vicariously liable if a doctor or nurse made a mistake which resulted in further injuries to a patient who was already undergoing medical treatment. This is an important concept to understand, because as a Fort Worth personal injury attorney, I've learned that people are often resistant to the idea of seeking damages for their injuries because they do not want to sue anyone. That is not how it works. You are seeking compensation against insurance policies or large companies - they can afford it.

Under Texas law, employers are responsible for the actions of their on duty staff. If an employee's negligence causes an injury while they are performing an authorized act or a task related to an authorized act, then the employer is vicariously liable despite the fact they had no direct involvement in causing the injury, because they have a right, ability or to duty to control the subordinate that caused the accident. If the employee does any wrongdoing during the course of performing their duties, the employer is responsible, so long as the wrongdoing was conducted within the course and scope of the employee's role at the company.


Exceptions to this rule include situations where the employee uses physical force such as in instances of assault or battery. In such cases as these, the act would be considered a criminal offense, so the employer would have no vicarious liability. There are, however, certain circumstances where physical force might be deemed an appropriate part of the job, such as a police officer or car repossession person.

While vicarious liability is generally regarding only in work injury cases, or in situation where a company's property in involved in an accident (such as on a company's premises or in an 18 wheeler collision), there are other situations where vicarious liability might come into play:

Principal's Liability
This can occur in car crashes when the at-fault driver is not the owner of the vehicle they were operating at the time of the accident. While in most situations it would be logical to pursue a claim against the driver's insurance regardless of what automobile they were driving, if they were driving someone else's vehicle in order to perform a task on the owner's behalf, then the owner of the vehicle might actually be vicariously liable.

Parental Liability
Parents already have a reasonable responsibility for their children's actions, but the legal concept of parental vicarious liability is still an issue which is evolving within tort law. Regardless, parents do have a definitive liability for their own negligent acts, which could include failure to supervise a child. Similarly, if a parent fails to keep a dangerous article, such as a gun, out of a child's reach, the parent would be vicariously liable if the child was then to accidentally shoot someone.


Other articles you might be interested in:
The Dilemma: Should you Make A Claim?  
Deadline For Filing Personal Injury Claims  
How Much Does It Cost To Hire An Attorney?  
Why It's So Important To Document Your Claim  
What A Good Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do For You   


Mark A. Anderson
Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas