If you get into an accident resulting from another person’s negligence in Florida and intend to file a lawsuit, the first legal step would be establishing liability. Unfortunately, this is not always straightforward.
There are some circumstances where liability could involve different parties or is not clear. Also, insurance companies advise their clients never to admit liability until it is proved professionally. Other types of liability may also not be straightforward, such as vicarious liability.
Before looking at vicarious liability, let us first understand what liability means.
What Is Liability?
If a party is declared liable for an accident, it means that the party is responsible for damages resulting from an accident. Also, they are accountable for restoring damages resulting from the accident. To establish liability in a case, a plaintiff must prove that the other party owed them the duty of care.
Duty of care is the responsibility one party has to ensure the safety of another person. For example, a driver on the road is responsible for driving their vehicle while ensuring the safety of other road users.
But establishing liability doesn’t stop at proving the duty of care; the claimant must also prove that the defendant breached their duty of care. Based on the previous example, a tailgating driver can be said to be in breach of care.
The plaintiff must also prove causation which refers to the outcomes resulting from a breach of care. For example, when a spilled drink in a grocery store results in an accident, the causation is the accident. Finally, the plaintiff must prove that the accident caused harm.
Understanding Vicarious Liability
Vicarious liability arises if the party responsible for an accident acted under the direction of another party. Vicarious liability is hinged on two legal concepts under Florida law. “Respondeat superior” and “Qui Facit Per Alium Facit Per Se.”
Under the “Respondeat Superior” concept, a Latin phrase meaning “let the superior answer,” the person giving directions for the action leading to an accident will be wholly liable for the accident. The second concept, “Qui Facit per Alium Facit Per Se,” a Latin phrase for “acting through another is acting through oneself,” holds that a person cannot evade accountability for acting through others.
Vicarious liability can rest on several parties, but the most common is the employer. A good example would be a truck accident should be held liable for the accident. However, the truck driver is an employee and is ferrying goods under the employer’s direction. Vicarious liability may apply.
Exemptions For Vicarious Liability
However, there are circumstances when vicarious liability may not apply. An excellent example is if the driver causes an accident while engaging in an activity outside their scope of work or causes the accident intentionally. But even then, the employer may still have liability if the hiring process was negligent, especially if the driver had a record of similar criminal behavior in the past.
Establishing vicarious liability can be a big challenge for plaintiffs. “It is possible to pursue a case independently, but doing so can only help make your chances of a favorable outcome very slim,” says injury attorney William Umansky of The Umansky Law Firm. The best idea is to enlist a vicarious liability lawyer to help file your case.
Hiring a lawyer is not only important in cases involving vicarious liability. Getting an attorney is essential, especially if injuries and damages suffered amount to a significant figure.