Parents, Employers, and Employees: What Is Vicarious Liability?

Accidents are a part of life. Sometimes they are the clear fault of a party involved, sometimes they are not. Sometimes, an accident may technically be someone’s fault— but it’s not their responsibility. This sounds complex, but in the eyes of the law, fault and responsibility are the most important things to understand.

This is why understanding the concept of vicarious liability is exceptionally important. This is especially necessary if you are the parent of minor-aged children, an employer, or an employee. Why? Because it boils down to one simple idea: who is responsible for an accident occurring?

A Vicarious Liability Lawyer Tells You What You Need to Know

Vicarious liability is when someone is held responsible for the actions or behaviors of another person. In other words, this is when someone gets injured or causes an accident, and while the accident may be technically their fault, someone else “takes the heat” for it.

Three Examples When a Vicarious Liability Attorney Can Get Someone “Off The Hook.”

If you played Monopoly has a child, you probably know the idea of a “get out of jail free” card. Who doesn’t like the idea of having someone else to blame for an injury? While many people might want to utilize the idea of vicarious liability, there are only a few clear-cut situations when this rule applies.

Here are a few situations in which vicarious liability applies. Between….

  • A parent and their underage child; parents, can be held responsible for the actions of minor-aged children.
  • Employer and employee; an employer is traditionally held accountable for the actions of those they employ. For example, if someone is driving a car on the clock and causes a car accident, their employer is often the one held responsible. In instances where vicarious liability comes into play, it is often examined and questioned, was the employee technically an employee or an intern, part-time or contract worker?
  • Vehicle driver and owner; many times the driver of a vehicle isn’t held responsible for the accident they have been in. This often applies during what is known as the family car doctrine. This rule is based on the idea that a household head will often have other family members who operate their car. If a family member gets into an accident driving the “family car” then it is traditionally the vehicle owner who is held accountable.

While these are often the most common instances of vicarious liability, there are endless possibilities where the rule might apply. Say, for example, that a teacher is accused of discrimination, or a landlord is accused of the same. In these instances, these individuals were working “on the clock” for an employer when committing the offense, so their employers are held responsible.


Vicarious liability can be confusing for all parties involved. If you believe you have been in an accident with someone affected by this rule, your best bet is to contact an experienced vicarious liability law firm for help!