Let’s say you are in your vehicle headed to the grocery store and waiting at a stop light. You look up in your review mirror and see a truck twice the size of your hatchback barreling towards you. The driver is looking down at a cell phone, and he’s not slowing down. He rear-ends your car. You’re injured, and now you have medical bills and missed time from work.
The commercial truck driver isn’t the only one who may be held responsible for your injuries, medical bills and time lost from work due to vicarious liability. The trucking company who hired the truck driver can be held vicariously liable for the driver’s negligence under a legal principle called “respondeat superior.” That means “let the master answer.” The theory holds an employer liable for an employee’s negligence, like the trucker looking at his cell phone while in the course of his employment in our example.
For an employer to be held liable, the negligent act has to occur within a set of determining factors: