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What is Vicarious Liability?

by | May 10, 2022 | Blog, Personal Injury | 0 comments

What is Vicarious Liability?

Vicarious liability is a legal theory that will, in certain circumstances, allow an injury victim of a car accident to hold a third party liable. In these car accident situations the individual who caused the injury was acting under the direction, supervision or employment of the third party.

If you were injured in a car accident and the at-fault party was employed or under the supervision of another party at the time of the accident, you may have a case against that third party.

There are two legal principles that vicarious liability is based on:

  • Qui Facit Per Alium Facit Per Se – The Latin legal maxim, “he who does an act through another is deemed in law to be have done it himself.” In other words, this means a person acting under the authority or orders of another may not be liable for damages caused by their negligent actions. Instead, the third party who authorized those actions would be financially liable.
  • Respondeat Superior – This legal doctrine is Latin for, “let the master answer.” This means the individual with a supervisory role over another may perhaps be held financially responsible for the negligent actions of that person.

There are a few common situations where someone may be held vicariously liable for the actions of another.


The third party could be an employer who may be held financially liable for the actions of an employee under the legal doctrine of Respondeat Superior. Your car accident lawyer would need to prove three specific facts in a case based on Respondeat Superior principal:

1. The employee/employer agreement at the time of the car accident.

2.The employer had administrative control over the employee.

3. The employee’s actions at the time of the car accident fell within the scope of his or her employment as defined as within an employee’s job requirements.

Vehicle Owners

In general, a vehicle owner may not be held vicariously liable for the negligence of someone who had permission to borrow and drive their vehicle. However, each individual state has different statutes or laws covering ownership liability in the event of a car accident.

In Georgia, the Family Purpose Doctrine may be used in certain circumstances to hold a vehicle owner financially liable for damages, whether they were or weren’t driving when the accident occurred. However, a vehicle owner cannot be held liable unless they had the right to control who uses their vehicle. In other words, the vehicle owner can not be held liable if the vehicle was being used without permission by the at-fault driver.


Many teenagers, as new drivers, drive cars owned by their parents. Therefore the parent may be held vicariously liable for a car accident their teenaged child causes. Georgia does have statutes that impose liability on parents for their minor children in most civil, and even some criminal, cases.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident where a third party may be held liable, speak with an experienced car accident attorney at Joshi & Patel. 

At Joshi & Patel, we offer a free case evaluation, no obligation consultation. Once it has been determined that you have a case, we will work for you on a contingent fee basis. In other words, you don’t pay your personal injury attorney fees up-front. Instead, you sign an agreement to pay us a percentage of your settlement amount. You pay us absolutely nothing unless you recover. 

**Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.