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When Does Vicarious Liability Law Apply in California?

Friday, April 13, 2018By Nina Shapirshteyn

As a general rule, you are legally responsible only for your own actions, but there are exceptions. Under the theory of vicarious liability, certain parties can be held liable for an injury that they did not cause through their own actions. But vicarious liability is limited to relationships where there is a legal connection between the parties and the responsible party exercises control over another entity.

Employer-employee. An employer may be liable for an employee’s negligent actions. This is referred to as respondeat superior law in California. Employers can be held accountable when the conduct of the employee was within the scope of his employment. This means that an employee must be acting in a way that was to be reasonably expected by the employer regardless of whether the conduct was a routine aspect of the employee’s typical duties. In other words, the accident should be a foreseeable consequence of the employee’s job duties.

Principal-agent. A principal can be charged with vicarious liability for the actions of his agents, partners, or joint venture members and, in some cases, independent contractors. The principal actor can be a company or an individual. Liability extends to the principal for acts that are within the scope of the agent’s duties and powers to act for the principal. The scope of the agency includes any actions whose purpose is to pursue the interests of the principal. Generally, any intentional tort is not considered to be within the scope of an agent’s duties, and a principal would not be held liable unless the principal expressly approved of the conduct.

Parent-child. In certain cases, California laws imposes liability on parents for injuries or damage to people or property caused by their children. Vicarious liability of a parent for the actions of a child is applicable under three conditions: (1) the child engaged in willful misconduct, (2) the child drove a parent’s vehicle and injuries or damages resulted from the diver’s negligent conduct, or (3) the parent permitted the child to use a firearm and the child injured another person.

Determining whether there is vicarious liability can be an important aspect of a negligence claim. The party deemed vicariously liable may have deeper pockets than the party committing the action and can be a more attractive target for the plaintiff.

If you or a member of your family was injured through the fault of another person, contact Alexander Law Group, LLC. Our exceptional personal injury lawyers will be sure you get the maximum compensation possible. Call 888.777.1776, or contact us online.

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