Posted on March 26, 2021
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Personal injury law is a complicated system with many confusing doctrines you may have to navigate if you are an injured accident victim in Texas. One of the many legal doctrines that may apply to your personal injury case is the rule of vicarious liability. Learn about this complex area of law in Texas with help from an attorney.
What Is Vicarious Liability?
Vicarious liability stems from the Latin phrase, “respondeat superior,” which translates to “let the master answer.” In personal injury law, the doctrine of vicarious liability has the power to hold certain parties – masters – legally responsible for the actions, behaviors and misconduct of their agents.
Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine in which a third party can be held liable for the injuries or harm caused to a victim by another party. This rule states that in certain situations, a defendant who was not physically present at the time of an accident (a third party) may bear liability for a victim’s injuries.
Texas’s Vicarious Liability Laws
Vicarious liability is not a legal concept that is applicable in every personal injury case in Texas. It will only play a role in cases involving third parties that bear legal responsibility for the actions of the defendant. The three parties that fall under the umbrella of vicarious liability the most often in personal injury law are employers, parents or legal guardians, and alcohol vendors.
In the employer/employee relationship, vicarious liability will apply when an employee causes an injury while acting within the scope of his or her employment. If an employee is negligent while on duty, and this causes an injury or death, the employer will most likely bear vicarious liability for the victim’s damages in Texas. If a delivery driver was operating under the influence, for example, and caused a car accident, the company will most likely be vicariously liable.
In the parent/child relationship, the vicarious liability doctrine will apply when a child under the age of majority (18 years old in Texas) causes an injury. In this scenario, the child’s parent or legal guardian can absorb legal responsibility for the accident through the vicarious liability rule. It would be the parents’ responsibility to pay for the losses caused by the minor in this case.
In an injury case involving an intoxicated individual, the vendor or supplier of the alcohol could bear vicarious liability. Texas’s dram shop law holds alcohol providers vicariously responsible for accidents caused by overserving patrons. If a bar or restaurant served alcohol to someone who was already obviously intoxicated or under the age of 21, for example, that establishment could bear vicarious liability for an accident caused by the intoxicated person.
How Might Vicarious Liability Affect Your Case?
It is important to learn whether the vicarious liability doctrine applies to your personal injury case. Understanding how this rule works and whether it applies to your case could help you pursue maximum financial compensation for your injuries and losses.
If you suffered a catastrophic injury with expensive related damages, the defendant directly involved in your case may not have enough liability insurance to fully pay for your medical expenses, property repairs and other losses. A vicariously liable third party, however, may have better coverage.
Identifying multiple parties in your personal injury case can improve your chances of receiving an adequate settlement award for your serious injuries. Vicarious liability gives you an additional source of financial recovery as an injured victim. Fortunately, Texas’s vicarious liability laws are extremely favorable to injured accident victims.
In Texas, injured victims can often hold employers, parents and many other entities vicariously responsible for injuries suffered in car accidents, dog attacks, falls, workplace accidents, medical malpractice and more. To find out if your personal injury case involves the doctrine of vicarious liability in Texas, consult with an attorney in Dallas today.