What Is Vicarious Liability in Arizona?

December 8, 2020

Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine your personal injury case in Arizona may involve if you have grounds to hold someone else responsible for the actions of another person. If a child damaged your property, for example, you may have a case against his or her parents. Understanding the legal theory of vicarious liability and how it may impact your case can allow you to seek maximum financial compensation for your losses.

What Does Vicarious Liability Mean?

Liability refers to responsibility for something, especially in a legal sense. Having liability for an injury means the party is responsible for making the victim whole again by paying for his or her losses. Vicarious liability describes one person’s accountability for the negligence of another person. The Latin phrase for vicarious liability is respondeat superior. Translated, this means let the master answer. Under the rule of vicarious liability, the superior will be responsible for the actions or misconduct of his or her subordinates.

When Will This Law Apply in Arizona?

The doctrine of vicarious liability might apply to your personal injury case if the person or party who caused your injury or property loss was the legal responsibility of another party at the time of your accident. The two most common examples are the employer-employer relationship and parent-child relationship. These are two situations in which the superior would be liable for the accident instead of the subordinate.

An example of vicarious liability is if you were grocery shopping and slipped on a banana peel a store employee negligently failed to clean up, you would most likely bring a premises liability claim against the employer, not the employee. The rule of vicarious liability would allow you to bring a claim against the employer, despite it being the employee who caused the accident. You would have to prove, however, that the employee guilty of negligence was performing job-related duties at the time of your accident.

The rule of vicarious liability will not apply to off-duty employees or independent contractors, in most cases. It may be difficult to determine if someone is an employee or a contractor depending on the situation. Most doctors and surgeons in Arizona, for instance, are independent contractors rather than employees of the hospital. In a medical malpractice case, therefore, the rule of vicarious liability might not apply.

Vicarious liability could also apply if a minor under the age of 18 committed an act of negligence, recklessness or carelessness that harmed you. Since minors generally do not have the funds or resources to pay for a victim’s damages, the law in Arizona makes their parents financially responsible instead. Further examples of when vicarious liability might apply are a driver lending a car to a known dangerous driver or a trucking company failing to properly train its truck drivers.

How Can Vicarious Liability Affect Your Personal Injury Case?

It can be important to explore vicarious liability in connection to your personal injury case. Holding the correct party liable can lead to greater compensation for your losses. An individual employee may not have the money or insurance coverage to fully pay for your losses, for instance, but the company responsible for the employee would. Finding out if vicarious liability applies to your case can be essential, especially if you have serious injuries.

When to Contact an Attorney

Vicarious liability is a complicated legal doctrine that could have a substantial impact on your personal injury case. Discover whether this doctrine is relevant to your lawsuit in Arizona by contacting an attorney. A personal injury lawyer can review your case, explain relevant laws and help you pursue compensation. If your case does involve the legal theory of vicarious liability, your lawyer can help you go up against the correct party or parties for justice and financial relief.