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Vicarious liability expands financial onus in car crashes

Who is responsible in a car accident may not be a clear-cut issue, particularly given the fact that an injured driver may be able to hold a person who wasn't even physically involved in the accident financially responsible. A Texas resident may wonder how this works and whether it will apply in an accident in which he or she has been involved.

Under the doctrine of vicarious liability, it may be possible for a person injured in a car accident to sue the owner of a vehicle involved in an accident even if that owner was not driving at the time. For example, if a vehicle owner lends his or her vehicle to someone the owner knows is an unsafe driver, such as someone who has a history of negligent driving, that vehicle owner could be legally liable under the theory of vicarious liability if the driver causes an accident. This theory, also known as negligent entrustment, is based on the idea that an owner acted negligently by entrusting an untrustworthy person with his or her vehicle.

Similarly, if an employee driving a company vehicle causes a car collision, the employer may be found to be liable if the employee was driving during the course of his or her employment. Whether the employee was driving during the scope of his or her employment, and therefore whether the employer can be held liable and financially responsible, will be dependent upon the facts of each particular case.

Legal damages that may be available following an auto accident may be greater than an injured person initially realizes. It may be beneficial to thoroughly investigate all parties involved in an accident before determining how to proceed.

Source: FindLaw, "Vicarious Liability and Negligent Entrustment," Accessed May 23, 2015

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