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Understanding Vicarious Liability Under Florida’s Personal Injury Law

The first thing that you do in any personal injury case is try to determine who is at fault for the accident. Under Florida state law that is called establishing liability. However, establishing liability isn’t always straightforward. In some cases, there can be no clear party liable for the accident. In other cases, it may be multiple parties that are considered liable. There are also different types of liability like vicarious liability.

What Is Liability?

One of the most important legal concepts in personal injury cases is liability. Liability is predicated on the concept that a person who is responsible for causing damages is responsible for the restoration of those damages. Liability is established based on four key principles:

● Duty Of Care: Duty of care is a legal term for the responsibility one party has for another. For example, store owners have a duty of care to provide shoppers a safe shopping experience.

● Breach Of Duty: Breach of duty is a legal term for when a responsible party does not exercise their duty of care. For example, all drivers have a duty of care to follow traffic laws. A driver running a red light is in breach of that duty.

● Causation: Causation is the legal term for when a breach of duty causes an outcome. For example, if a dog is not on a leash and runs off to bite someone, the owner caused the bite by breaching their duty to leash laws.

● Damages: Damages is the legal term for the harm caused by the breach of duty. For example, an employer does not provide safe working conditions and a staff member sustains an injury. The spinal injury and subsequent costs as a result of the injury are the damages.

Establishing liability is crucial for pursuing an accident injury claim. However, sometimes the person who breached their duty was doing so under the direction or supervision of another party. In some cases, they may be liable as well or even, instead.

What Is Vicarious Liability?

Vicarious liability is when the party that breached their duty and caused damages was acting under the direction or on behalf of another party. Two legal concepts support vicarious liability including:

● “Respondeat Superior”: Respondeat superior is Latin for “let the master answer.” Meaning that a person who directed the actions that caused the harm is ultimately responsible for the harm.
● “Qui Facit Per Alium Facit Per Se”: Another Latin phrase that means “those who act through another act through themselves.” This essentially means that people cannot avoid accountability if they were acting through another person.

These two legal concepts essentially state that the person liable is the person who initiated the breach of duty. In some cases, that may not be the person who actually breached their duty of care.

Who Can Be Considered Vicariously Liable?

Several parties can be held vicariously liable for damages. In personal injury cases, the most common is employers. If an employee caused harm acting under the direction of their employer, their employer may be held liable. For example, if you are hit by a truck driver, the truck driver will initially be held liable.

However, during the investigation and discovery phase of the claim, your attorney discovers that the employer was forcing overtime. If the overtime demands violated industry standards, industry regulations, or the law, the employer may be held liable instead. It is in fact the employer who breached their duty. The employer is considered vicariously liable for the accident caused by their employee.

Vicarious liability is just one of the many reasons you need to work with a Florida personal injury attorney. Determining liability is not always straightforward. Sometimes there are other parties at fault. Further, in cases of vicarious liability, victims can sometimes end up with a higher settlement value. To learn more about how liability can impact your injury claim, give us a call or chat with us on our website anytime. The team Justice Pays, Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy and Walsh, have recovered over $500 million for our clients. Our legal knowledge and experience ensures the right liable party will be pursued for compensation.

Daniel Murphy's passionate belief in upholding the Florida justice system by defending the rights of the public against corporate interests, has lead him to become one of Florida's most effective young attorneys. Daniel Murphy carries his enthusiasm for fighting for the rights of the injured outside the courtroom by staying involved in legal and community organizations.

Understanding Vicarious Liability Under Florida’s Personal Injury Law

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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