Vicarious Liability

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What is Vicarious Liability?

Vicarious liability is a legal theory often used in premises liability cases. Whether you are the victim of an accident, the owner of a business, or an employee caught in the crossfire, understanding how vicarious liability works and what your responsibilities are under it can help you prepare for a case.

Vicarious liability means an employer is ultimately accountable for damages or injuries their employees cause. It only applies if the damage was done at work. For example, if a store clerk has an accident while working in the supermarket, their employer is responsible for the injuries.

What's the Purpose of Vicarious Liability?

Vicarious liability is there to keep workers safe. Vicarious liability protects employees from being held legally responsible for their actions, even if they acted negligently. Your employer told you to do what you did, and they are at fault because they could have educated you differently or kept a closer eye on you.

It’s also there to protect the people who are hurt. For example, if you get hurt in a store because of a dangerous situation, it may not be in your best interest to sue the part-time floor worker. That person may not have the money (or insurance) to cover your injuries. On the other hand, their employer probably has liability insurance and the resources to deal with your claim.

What Does Vicarious Liability Cover?

Vicarious liability coverage protects an employer against damages or injuries caused by an employee while they are acting within the scope of their employment. For example, if a delivery driver causes an accident while making a delivery for a company, the company may be held vicariously liable for the damages and injuries sustained in the accident.

Vicarious liability coverage can help protect the employer or vehicle owner from paying out-of-pocket for these damages and can provide peace of mind knowing that their financial interests are protected.

Workers Covered by Vicarious Liability

Because of vicarious liability, an employer is almost always responsible for what an employee does. According to Georgia law, this is a hard rule.

Most of the time, vicarious liability doesn’t cover independent contractors like freelancers or “1099 workers.” There can be times when a contractor is responsible for the damage they caused working, but Georgia law says that employers are still responsible for what their contractors do if:

  • The boss stepped in and told the contractor to do what needed to be done
  • The action or work that caused the damage was “ratified,” which means that the employer agreed with it or supported it
  • The kind of work the boss asked for was wrong or dangerous by nature

If you’re a contractor and you’re being sued for something that went wrong at work, keep in mind that the company that hired you may also be responsible. You can get some or all of the money back from your employer for the damage you caused.

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If you have been injured in an accident, the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Brown Firm offer free consultations to accident victims in Georgia and South Carolina. Call 800-529-1441 to speak with our personal injury team today!

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