What Is Vicarious Liability And Why Is It Important?

Vicarious liability is a legal term that often arises when one party acts negligently on behalf of another, who is secondarily liable. According to the Legal Information Institute, “vicarious liability” is that which “a supervisory party (such as an employer) bears for the actionable conduct of a subordinate or associate (such as an employee) based on the relationship between the two parties.” For more about the vicarious liability of car owners, please see our blog Car Owners and Vicarious Liability in Pennsylvania.

Not only may vicarious liability involve an employer and employee but it may also apply to a husband-wife or parent-child relationship. Vicarious liability may also apply in a criminal context. Under common law, a member of a conspiracy may be held vicariously liable for the crimes of co-conspirators if their crimes were foreseeable and committed with the intent of furthering the objective of the conspiracy.

Vicarious liability is a type of a strict, secondary liability related to respondeat superior, a common law agency doctrine that holds that the superior is responsible for the acts of a subordinate based on having the “right, ability or duty to control” the activities of the subordinate who is negligent.

Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, employers are vicariously liable for the negligent acts or omissions by their employees in the scope and course of their employment. The owner of an automobile may be held vicariously liable for negligence committed by a person to whom the vehicle has been entrusted as if the owner was a principal and the driver was his agent.

In some circumstances, accident victims may have a cause of action against both a party that has caused harm and a third party that may be vicariously liable. If you require legal assistance in litigating a claim for damages resulting from a personal injury, contact Powell Law. Our long history of success in representing the residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania makes Powell Law the clear and obvious choice for representation in personal injury matters. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777 or visit us online. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay unless we win!


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