Vicarious Liability and How It Applies to Personal Injury Law

Motor vehicle accidents are some of the most common causes of personal injury lawsuits in the United States, and liability can often be a murky subject in these cases. However, cases involving commercial drivers almost always dredge up difficult questions about liability. One of the terms that often comes into play in motor vehicle accident cases involving semi-trucks and commercial drivers is “vicarious liability.”

What Is Vicarious Liability?

As the name suggests, vicarious liability indicates that a party other than the driver directly involved with a commercial vehicle accident could hold liability for the accident. When a third party who was not present for the actual accident is liable for the accident, this is vicarious liability.

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Commercial vehicle accidents often involve drivers employed by trucking companies or other corporate entities. When these drivers cause accidents due to the constraints placed upon them by their superiors, such as hours of service and delivery time quotas, their employers could face liability for any resulting damages through the legal concept of vicarious liability. Since these drivers are performing job duties under the direction of their employers, those employers are responsible for their drivers’ actions on the clock.

Vicarious liability in semi-truck accidents can also refer to violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) standards for commercial vehicle drivers and employers’ failure to enforce them. Employers who fail to adhere to these standards and violate the FMCSA code could face liability for any damages their drivers cause due to noncompliance or negligence.

Potential Damages in Vicarious Liability Cases

A motor vehicle accident involving a large commercial vehicle can be incredibly damaging. If the employer of a semi-truck driver involved in such an accident is found liable for the resulting damages under the concept of vicarious liability, the employer could face liability for any and all damages the plaintiff experienced from the accident. This might include medical expenses for treating the plaintiff’s injuries, lost income from missed time at work during recovery or inability to work in the future due to permanent disability, property damage to the plaintiff’s vehicle, and pain and suffering compensation. If the accident resulted in a death, the truck driver’s employer could face liability for wrongful death damages such as funeral and burial expenses.

Semi-truck accidents can be incredibly damaging and legally confusing. Contact us today at (419) 843-6663 or reach out to us online if you would like to schedule a free consultation and discuss your vicarious liability case with an experienced personal injury attorney.