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How Does Vicarious Liability Apply to Personal Injury Law?

What is vicarious liability? If it sounds like legal jargon to you, you’re not alone. However, it is an important term to understand, both on its own and in the context of personal injury law. This post will help clear up what vicarious liability means and how it relates to your case — specifically cases involving commercial drivers such as semi-truck drivers.

What Does “Vicarious Liability” Mean?

To better understand the definition of vicarious liability, let’s break down what each word means:

  • It means to serve or experience in place of someone or something. You may think of the term “living vicariously,” which means to live through someone else’s experiences.
  • Liability is an obligation to do or refrain from doing something. “Liable” is to be responsible for under the law.  When you purchase automobile “liability insurance”, you are purchasing insurance which pays for damage you cause to a person or their property.
  • In law, Vicarious Liability means the imputation of liability upon one person for the actions of another.

What Does Vicarious Liability Mean in Commercial Trucking Accidents?

In accidents involving a truck or commercial vehicle, vicarious liability can apply to the employer-employee relationship. For example, when a commercial semi-truck hits car with a family inside causing injury, there is a question as to whether the driver, the company, or both are liable.

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If the truck driver is engaging in an activity that is against policy (such as driving longer than allowed by the Department of Transportation, or DUI/DWI), then the company would likely be required to pay damages to the injured family. Sometimes the company is liable even if the accident is entirely the driver’s fault for any reason, including DUI or DWI, as well as distracted driving and driving too long consecutively under federal regulations.  According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) “Texting is among the worst driving distractions. The odds of being involved in a crash, near-crash, or unintentional lane deviation are 23.2 times greater for truck and bus drivers who are texting while driving. Research shows that drivers texting while driving took their eyes off the forward road for 4.6 seconds on average. At 55 mph, this equates to traveling 371 feet (more than the length of a football field) without looking at the road.”   https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ourroads/tips-truck-and-bus-drivers

If you are wondering why this is such an important topic in personal injury law, it is because more than 530,000 accidents per year in the United States involve semi-trucks https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/SASStoredProcess/guest — most of which are insured under commercial liability insurance policies.

RELATED ARTICLE: Tips for Avoiding Distracted Driving

Why Get Legal Help in Your Personal Injury Law Case?

If you or your loved ones have been injured in a crash involving a semi-truck, there may be a corporation involved who carries at least some portion of the liability. That company will have people protecting their interest, which means you need top-notch legal help too.

The team at Arthur Law Firm Co., LPA is here to help. Contact us today for a consultation.