Legally reviewed by:
Setareh Law
January 24, 2023

Liability is one of the most complex aspects of a personal injury claim. While in most accidents, the negligent party is always held liable for the damages caused, there may be multiple parties that were liable for the accident. This is the basis of the legal doctrine of vicarious liability.

When pursuing a personal injury claim, you can maximize your compensation by holding all the responsible parties accountable. You can achieve this by hiring a skilled personal injury lawyer at Setareh Law. We will work hard to investigate the facts in your case, identify all the liable parties, including those who are vicariously liable, and hold them accountable. 

What Is Vicarious Liability in a Personal Injury Case?

In a personal injury case, vicarious liability is when certain third parties are held liable for the injuries and damages caused by another person. This policy comes into play when there is a legal relationship between the parties and one party has control over the actions of the other. They will be indirectly held accountable for the other party’s negligent actions, even if they were not present. For example, if a waiter or waitress spills hot coffee on you, the restaurant itself may be held liable for their employee’s actions as well.

When you’re injured in an accident, vicarious liability helps you receive higher compensation by holding multiple parties accountable.

What Are the Principles of Vicarious Liability?

While people are generally responsible for their own actions, third parties can also be held accountable in a vicarious liability claim. Vicarious liability is applied in a personal injury case based on two principles, which include:

Qui Facit Per Alium Facit Per Se 

This Latin phrase means “he who acts through another does the act himself.” This means that when a party authorizes another person to act, the party that authorized those actions will be held financially liable for their negligent actions that resulted in damages. 

Respondeat Superior

This means “let the master answer.” In this scenario, the superior entity or person can be held responsible for the actions of their subordinates. This is the most common principle of vicarious liability. It applies when a person commits negligent actions while under the supervision of a third party, such as the restaurant example explained above.  

When Does Vicarious Liability Apply in California?

The claimant must establish the relationship between the two parties for vicarious liability to apply. Third parties can be held vicariously liable for the negligent actions of another party in a California personal injury case involving the following:

Employer for Employee

An employer may be held liable for the actions of an employee acting within the scope of their employment. The employee is liable if their employee’s negligent actions are reasonably related to the tasks they perform or to the nature of their responsibilities. This also applies when the action was directed by, authorized by, or is directly connected to the employer.

Therefore, if you were injured in an accident caused by a negligent employee performing their duties, you may also have their employer liable for your damages. Generally, an employee must act in a way that is to be expected by the employer. The employee’s negligent actions that caused the accident should be a foreseeable outcome of their responsibilities.

Parent for Child

California also holds parents or guardians liable when a minor causes damage or injuries to others. When a parent fails to control or discipline their child properly, they will be held accountable for their negligent actions. Vicarious liability of a parent over their minor children is applied under the following circumstances:

  • The minor engaged in willful misconduct
  • The child drove a parent’s vehicle and their negligent actions caused injuries and damages.
  • The parent allowed the child to use a firearm and consequently injured another person

However, a parent may not likely be held liable if their child’s actions are not intentional, as California laws only impose liability on parents for their children’s intentional acts of negligence. 

Principal for Agent

When someone authorizes another to act on their behalf, they are responsible for their actions. The principal will be vicariously liable when their agent’s negligent acts are within the scope of their duties. This also applies when people form a partnership and one commits a negligent or wrongful act that harms others. Their partner will also be held financially accountable for the injuries resulting from the accident.

Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney at Setareh Law 

If you were injured in an accident caused by someone’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation from multiple parties. Vicarious liability allows California accident victims to recover damages from those not directly involved in the accident.

When unsure of whom to hold accountable, speak to one of our experienced and Spanish-speaking California personal injury lawyers at Setareh Law. Call us today at (310) 659-1826 or schedule a free consultation to learn how we can maximize your compensation.