Vicarious liability means that one party or entity is (vicariously) liable for the negligence committed by another. When applied in the employer-employee context, the term is called respondeat superior, which is Latin for let the superior answer. This doctrine applies to employers who are responsible for most torts committed by their employees.
For example, if you are driving down the road and a truck driver employed by Ace Trucking Company negligently hits your car, you can sue not only the truck driver but also Ace Trucking Company. The general rule is that employers are vicariously liable for the tortious acts of their employees. If you shop in a department store and an employee at the department store starts cursing at you and falsley accuses you of shoplifting without reasonable or probable cause, you can sue not only the employee individually but also the department store.
Employers generally are not liable for the torts of independent contractors. Thus, an important legal question in many tort cases is whether an alleged tortfeasor is an employee or an independent contractor. Take the example of a newspaper delivery person who negligently hits another vehicle. The question becomes whether the newspaper company can be sued for the tortious action of the delivery person. If the delivery person is an employee, then the newspaper publisher may be liable. If the delivery person is only an independent contractor, the newspaper publisher may not be liable.
- Are awards in tort cases taxable?
- What is the difference between a lump sum settlement and a structured settlement?
- Can states cap punitive damage awards?
- Are there limits to punitive damage awards?
- What factors does a court consider in determining the amount of punitive damages?
- What is the role of punitive damages in bifurcated tort cases?
- What are some examples of frivolous lawsuits?
- What was the McDonald’s hot coffee case?
- Why are punitive damage awards considered controversial?
- What types of damages are most common in tort cases?
- What is the duty to mitigate damages?
- Which states still do have contributory negligence?
- Why is comparative fault considered fairer than contributory negligence?
- Who determines the percentages of fault of the parties?
- What are the different forms of comparative negligence?
- What happens if both parties (plaintiff and defendant) are negligent?
- If you fall on a slippery floor in a store, can you sue for negligence?
- Where does the term good Samaritan come from?
- Can a Good Samaritan be held liable if he or she acts negligently even though they are trying to help?
- What if some unexpected event causes damage to a plaintiff after a defendant’s negligent act?