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What is vicarious liability?

Did you know that you could be held liable for a car accident when you weren't even in any car involved or even at the scene of the incident? Turning the tables, if you were involved in an accident and sustained damages and injuries, you might be able to hold an absent party at least partly liable for those damages. This is all possible through a principle called vicarious liability.

Vicarious liability doesn't just occur simply because you have some connection to someone involved in an accident. As the owner of a vehicle involved, whether you can be named in a lawsuit regarding the accident depends in part on the state law and on your actions in letting someone else drive your car. As someone injured in an accident, it's important to know whom you should name in any resulting lawsuit, which is one reason to work with a personal law professional.

One situation that leads to liability of the car owner is if the person allowed someone to drive the car even if the car owner knew the person was a bad driver. Liability of the owner could also be possible if a person let a drunk person drive one's car knowing that person was intoxicated. In many areas, a parent can be held liable if he or she allows a minor child -- even one with a license -- to drive a family vehicle.

Employers might also be held liable if they allow workers to drive vehicles. This is especially true if the employee isn't appropriately trained or certified for the specific vehicle type, but you might be able to list an employer in a lawsuit regardless of the capability of the driver.

Source: FindLaw, "Vicarious Liability and Negligent Entrustment," accessed Sep. 16, 2016

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