Vicarious Liability: Holding Employers Responsible When Employees Cause Harm - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
  • Sunday, 14 July 2019

Vicarious Liability: Holding Employers Responsible When Employees Cause Harm

#AskSandraZisckind

One of the essential tasks of an Ontario personal injury lawyer upon taking on the case of a client injured in an accident is to review the facts to determine who is responsible. For instance, it might seem safe to assume that a driver who fails to obey a stop sign crashes into another car causing serious injuries to its occupants is responsible for the crash and should be held liable to pay damages, but this might be only partially accurate.

An investigation into the facts of the case could reveal that the driver who ignored the stop sign was working at the time of the accident and on the way to a work-related appointment. Under those circumstances, an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer would know to include the employer as a responsible party under the legal theory of vicarious liability.

What is vicarious liability?

Vicarious liability frequently arises in situations in which an employee engages in negligent conduct while at work or while engaging in work-related activities. The law makes the employer responsible for the negligent acts of its employee even under circumstances where the employer did not specifically authorize or direct the actions of the employee.

Elements essential to establishing vicarious liability

In order to prove vicarious liability, the evidence must show that employees acted within the scope of the authority granted to them through the employment agreement they have with the company or individual that hired them. This legal relationship does not exist in all situations in which one person carries out duties on behalf of another. For instance, a company using an independent contractor to make a delivery does not have the same authority and control over the contractor as it would have over an employee, so vicarious liability might not apply.

A successful claim against an employer requires proof that at the time of the accident the employee was engaged in work-related duties on behalf of the employer. This is where the evidence produced through the investigation carried out by the personal injury lawyer representing the injured party can be most important.

If an employee is operating outside the scope of employment, vicarious liability would not apply. An example of this would be a driver who uses a company vehicle to carry out a personal errand without the employer knowing about it. If the driver causes an accident resulting in injuries to another party, the fact the activities of the driver were unrelated to the performance of his or her work duties would not allow the injured parties to make a claim against the employer.

Speaking with a personal injury lawyer about a claim for damages and vicarious liability is important because the law pertaining to vicarious liability is complex in how it is applied. Ontario’s Insurance Act limits the damages in certain instances for which a negligent party might be held liable. Under those circumstances, the damages payable by someone vicariously liable would also be limited.

Ontario personal injury lawyers

If you are injured through the negligence of another party, the personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for compensation on behalf of accident victims. Call the Diamond and Diamond 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit their website to speak to someone now. They have offices located throughout Ontario offering free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims and their families.

Faqs

Are employers vicariously liable for independent contractors?

Yes. The Vicarious liability tort asserts that proof of negligence against one part is unnecessary in a civil lawsuit that targets a second party in a self-definitive relationship. Primary examples of this kind of special relationship include: –

  • An Employer and his/her Employees
  • Parents and their Children
  • A vehicle’s Owner and the Driver
  • A Spouse and his/her Partner Consequently, an employer can be held legally responsible for the negligent actions of an employee.

Is an employer held vicariously liable for an employee that goes rogue?

Yes. The Vicarious liability tort asserts that proof of negligence against one part is unnecessary in a civil lawsuit that targets a second party in a self-definitive relationship. Primary examples of this kind of special relationship include: –

  • An Employer and his/her Employees
  • Parents and their Children
  • A vehicle’s Owner and the Driver
  • A Spouse and his/her Partner Consequently, an employer can be held legally responsible for the negligent actions of an employee.

Does vicarious liability apply in family-owned businesses, wherein the staff often are kids of the owner?

Yes. Vicarious Liability is substantially reinforced in a family-owned business where the staff are kids of the owner. The two unique relationships in such a business are employer-employee and parent-children self-definitive relationships.

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