Vicarious Liability and Florida Car Accidents

May 16, 2022 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Vicarious Liability and Florida Car Accidents

Car Accidents Where A Third-Party Can Be Partially Liable

Recovering damages following a car accident usually involves filing a claim with the other driver's insurance company. However, there are some instances where a third party may be legally responsible for the driver that caused the accident. Since these parties are legally responsible for the driver's actions, they may share liability in a car accident claim.

What is Vicarious Liability?

Vicarious liability is the legal responsibility a supervisory party has for another's conduct. Since the third party has some legal responsibility for the at-fault party, they can be included in a car accident claim. This relationship usually involves an employer and their employee, but it can also include a parent and their child or two people who share a vehicle. They do not have to be directly involved in the car accident to be partially liable in a car accident claim.

Recovering Damages from a Car Accident

If you suffered damages that exceed your insurance policy's limits, you could file a car accident claim to recover damages. A car accident lawyer can help you determine whether there is a third party that can be vicariously liable for the damages. They will work with you to pursue compensation from all possible liable parties.

Is an Employer Liable for an Employee's Car Accident?

An employer could share liability with an employee if their car accident happened while on the job. The relationship between an employer and employee indicates that the employer has legal responsibility for the employee during work hours. An employer can only share liability if the accident happened within the scope of their employment. If an employee is a delivery driver and commits a negligent act that leads to a car accident, the employer can share liability in a car accident claim. The term “scope of employment” can be flexible regarding liability. The car accident must have happened during a work task. If the driver was off the clock and not driving a company vehicle when they caused an accident then it would not leave the employer liable.  

Employers Are Not Liable for Car Accidents Caused by Independent Contractors

Vicarious liability rarely applies to car accidents involving independent contractors. By their nature, an independent contractor is not an employee of a company. Even if they complete multiple jobs over a more extended period, they are not legally considered an employee. However, a lawyer could attempt to institute vicarious liability if there were negligent hiring practices at play with the independent contractor. For example, a negligent hiring practice might involve an employer hiring a driver with a history of causing car accidents due to drunk driving for a delivery job. They would be putting a reckless driver on the road and could share liability for any accident the independent contractor causes. Another possible way for vicarious liability to be applied to a company for an independent contractor car accident is if they ordered them to complete an inherently dangerous task. An inherently dangerous task is a work assignment with a severe level of danger associated. For example, transporting highly combustible materials is an inherently dangerous task. An employer could share liability for putting an independent contractor on a job with severe risks.

Car Accidents Involving a Borrowed Vehicle

In a car accident with a borrowed vehicle, the victim will file a car accident claim with the insurance of the vehicle's owner. Although the person who borrowed the vehicle is responsible for the accident, the vehicle owner's insurance is the primary policy of the vehicle and will be used to pay for any damages caused by the car accident. However, if another person operates a vehicle without the owner's consent, the owner will not share liability for the car accident. This can happen with a stolen vehicle or if a person close to the owner uses the vehicle without permission. Liability only applies to the owner in a borrowed car accident if they gave consent to the driver that caused the accident.

The Graves Amendment and Car Rental Accidents

In 2005, the US Government passed the Graves Amendment to protect rental companies from liability in car accidents involving cars leased out to customers. This bill means that a car accident victim cannot apply vicarious liability to rental companies for any damages caused by customers once the rented car leaves the lot. The customer that causes the car accident is solely responsible for any damages they cause.

Is a Parent Liable for Their Child's Car Accident?

A parent can be liable for a car accident caused by their child as long as they are still the child's legal guardian. Vicarious liability only applies to children still living in the house as a dependent of the parent. This relationship indicates that the parent is legally responsible for their child's actions. Even if the child is over 18, the parent can still be vicariously liable as long as the child is a dependent. The parent stops being vicariously liable for the child once they move out and live independently away from the parent.

Filing a Car Accident Claim

Florida is a no-fault state, which means drivers must purchase personal injury protection. PIP insurance can cover up to $10,000 worth of economic damages caused by a car accident. In a severe car crash, you might suffer damages exceeding your insurance policy's limits. In that case, you can file a claim to help recover damages from a car accident in a no fault state. If you were involved in an accident that may include vicarious liability, a car accident lawyer is essential to determining if this liability is applicable and who it applies to. Many parties could share liability, and a lawyer can help you sort through who is legally responsible for the reckless driver's actions. They can also help you prove the at-fault party's liability by collecting evidence such as video footage, medical records, and witness testimonies. In a successful car accident claim, you could recover damages including medical bills, lost wages, lost earning potential, property damage, disability costs, and pain and suffering.

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Car Accident Claim

Filing a car accident claim can be a complicated process, especially if a third party can be responsible through vicarious liability. It would be best to have a car accident lawyer to sort through whom you can file a claim to receive fair compensation. At Dolman Law Group, our experienced car accident lawyers will do their due diligence to ensure all possible parties held liable for damages are vetted. Once the liable parties are determined, they will help you work toward receiving compensation while you recover from your car accident injuries. Get in touch with Dolman Law Group today for a free consultation. Call 833-55-CRASH or leave us a message on our online contact page.  


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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