Vicarious Liability: What It Is and How to Protect Yourself

October 10, 2019

Can you be held liable for something that you didn’t actually do yourself? The answer, surprisingly, is yes. If you are an employer or otherwise responsible for another person and that person does something illegal or negligent, you could be held liable alongside them. This is called vicarious liability, and it could affect you and your company in a dramatic way.

Definition of Vicarious Liability

By definition, vicarious liability is a situation in which a party that you have association with in some way, such as an employee, does something negligent or illegal. If it can be argued that you should have known their intentions or of their actions, you could also be held liable. This can result in criminal charges or lawsuits.

Some Examples

To get a better idea of what vicarious liability is, here are some examples.

  • A construction worker mishandles controls resulting in significant property damage. The construction company can be held liable.
  • A ship is run aground causing an oil spill, due to negligence on the captain’s behalf. The oil company that owns the ship is liable.
  • Sexual harassment or other workplace harassment by an employee leads to vicarious liability of the company.
  • A delivery driver hits and injures a pedestrian. The company employing the driver could be held liable.

Protecting Yourself

The only way to protect yourself against the possibility of vicarious liability is if you hire an experienced attorney to represent you. Vicarious liability is not a foregone conclusion, regardless of your relationship to the person who actually broke the law. With excellent legal representation, you could still come out ahead. An experienced white collar lawyer will be able to examine every aspect of the case to determine if you truly can be held liable or not.

If you are being held vicariously liable for a crime or negligence committed by another person, we can help. Contact us today for more information or to schedule your consultation.

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