Vicarious Liability

Car accidents can have multiple causes. For example, the driver ran the red light, but their friend loaned them the car, knowing they didn’t have a license. The driver was speeding, but they were working for their employer at the time of the accident.

Vicarious liability is the concept that someone can be legally liable for a car accident even when they are not the driver. If it applies, it can help the victim receive the monetary compensation they deserve.

How Does Vicarious Liability Work for Car Accidents in Atlanta?

Vicarious liability works for car accidents in Atlanta to allow a victim to recover monetary compensation from someone other than the driver. It may apply to an employer-employee relationship, a family purpose vehicle, or in cases of negligent entrustment of the vehicle.

If vicarious liability applies, the victim may name the third party as a defendant in their lawsuit for car accident compensation. Even if the driver is unable to pay compensation, the victim may recover from the party that has vicarious liability.

What are the types of vicarious liability in Atlanta car accidents?

The types of vicarious liability in Atlanta car accidents are:

  1. Employer-employee – A worker was driving on behalf of their employer at the time of the accident
  2. Family purpose – The owner of the vehicle is an immediate family member who controls the use of the car and makes it available for family use
  3. Negligent entrustment – An owner allows someone else to use the vehicle knowing that they are not fit to drive it

What is the most common example of vicarious liability?

The most common example of vicarious liability is the employer-employee relationship. The employer hires the worker. They give them a vehicle to drive to an appointment. On the way, the worker causes an accident. A victim may hold the employer accountable on the theory of vicarious liability because they were working on behalf of the employer at the time of the accident.

What is vicarious liability for an employer in a car accident?

Vicarious liability for an employer in a car accident is the legal liability that attaches when the employee acts in the scope of their duties. Georgia law § 51-2-2 creates imputable negligence for the actions of an agent under the legal theory of respondeat superior. If the worker is driving for the benefit of the employer, the employer can be liable.

Whether the person is driving for the benefit of the employer can be a tricky question. Even if the worker is driving to an appointment, or driving a company vehicle, if they venture off the path to run a personal errand, they are no longer acting in the scope of their employment. Commuting to or from work is typically not covered, but it can be if the worker is talking on a cell phone for work or doing something else that benefits the employer. Whether vicarious liability applies may require digging deep into the facts to prove what was happening at the time of the accident.

What is negligent entrustment for car accidents?

Negligent entrustment can make a vehicle owner liable for a car accident because they loan a car to someone who is not fit to have it. A person may have negligent entrustment liability because of:

  • Inexperience
  • Lack of skill
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Poor driving history
  • Impairment
  • No license
  • Age

For negligent entrustment to apply, the driver must have actual knowledge of the driver’s lack of fitness.

What is family purpose liability for car accidents?

When the owner of a vehicle makes it available to immediate family members, the owner may be legally liable for an accident. The owner must have made the vehicle available for family use, although the driver doesn’t have to be operating it for family benefit at the time of the accident.

Just owning the vehicle isn’t enough – The owner must keep sufficient control over the vehicle to create an agency relationship. When the owner provides the vehicle for the driver’s pleasure, comfort, or convenience without expectation of payment, family purpose liability may apply for a car accident.

Attorneys for Car Accidents with Vicarious Liability

Have you been in a car accident? Let our car accident attorneys examine your case to see if vicarious liability applies. We can take all the necessary steps to get the financial compensation that you deserve if you’re hurt in a crash. Contact us today.