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What is Vicarious Liability in Car Accidents?

Let’s say you’re driving along a Las Vegas street, and begin making a left turn at an intersection with a green light. Suddenly, a truck comes barreling down the street and hits your car, broadside. Your car is totaled, and you are likely to be seriously injured. Unfortunately, after paying medical bills and going through rehabilitation, while missing months of work, you find out that the truck driver who hit you is broke. Are you completely out of luck in terms of recouping any compensation?

Not necessarily. Of course, it’s possible that the insurance held by the truck driver pays some of your expenses, but insurance policies have limits. And what if the diver wasn’t insured? If the vehicle involved in the accident was a commercial truck, the driver may have been an employee of a company. If this is the case, it may be possible that the company can be held liable for the actions of its worker.

This can be true due to the doctrine of vicarious liability, or more specifically, respondeat superior. Under this theory, if an employee is negligent, his employer may be liable for any damage caused by that negligence. Generally, for this to apply, the employee must be ‘on the clock,’ by performing the duties he or she normally would be as part of the job, and be providing some sort of benefit to the employer.

In many cases, a company employing a commercial vehicle driver will have far more resources available to pay compensation to an injured person than the driver him- or herself. Of course, for such a civil suit to work, there must have been some negligence on the part of the commercial driver, and he or she must be an employee. Some businesses will claim that its drivers are independent contractors, and thus, the company is not liable for any negligence on the driver’s part (this is why it’s difficult to sue ride-sharing companies for accidents). Those who have been injured in commercial vehicle accidents may want to consider exploring their options with an experienced Nevada injury attorney.