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Vicarious liability in personal injury litigation, P.1

In a previous post, we mentioned that third party liability is an important issue to explore in motor vehicle accident cases where there may have been other parties who contributed to the accident other than the individuals directly involved in the crash.

The possibility of pursuing such third-party liability really depends on the circumstances of the case, and it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can help identify all potentially liable parties and hold them accountable. One possibility for third party liability is vicarious liability, which involves holding employers liable for the wrongdoing of their employees.  

Under New York Law, an employer is generally liable for the actions of an employee as long as the employee was acting within the scope of employment. Employers are generally not going to be liable for the wrongful actions of independent contractors since they do not exercise as much control over their actions. In New York, the courts will determine whether an employment relationship exists on the basis of whether one party maintains general supervisory powers the other. If the supervision only amounts to incidental control, there is no employment relationship that may give rise to vicarious liability.

That being said, employers may be held accountable for the actions of independent contractors if they direct or affirmatively participate in wrongful actions of a contract which result in injury or death. In addition, employers may be liable for the actions of independent contractors if they fail to properly select, instruct or supervise them, if the injury occurs in the context of work which is highly dangerous, or when the employer attempted to make the contractor responsible for a duty that cannot be delegated.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic and how an experienced attorney can help an accident victim hold employers accountable for the part they play in motor vehicle accidents. 

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