Understanding Vicarious Liability: How You Can Be Responsible for the Acts of Others

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Knowing that someone else’s actions could cause potential legal problems could lead to serious consequences is a difficult concept to process. Vicarious liability may transfer responsibility for the criminal actions of one person to another, and this is especially complicated when it harms the company or another employee.

No matter what type of industry the person works in, his or her actions could transfer to another employee or the company as a whole depending on the circumstances. If the person was under orders to perform an illegal act, he or she is legally responsible for any criminal activity, but the company usually takes the hit for these actions. Legal ramifications occur when law enforcement and prosecuting lawyers attempt to hold the business to these incidents. The vicarious liability applies through court proceedings to hold an entity to higher standards. This could involve healthcare code breaches, destruction of evidence, shredding of paperwork and numerous other actions of a single or several employees.

What Is Vicarious Liability?

Legal responsibility of the actions one person performs could transfer to another. This often depends on the inclusion of a company environment and knowledge of some type of criminal activity. However, one individual may have no understanding of these matters and little or no involvement other than his or her presence during the activity. Sometimes, the owner of a company becomes responsible for the illegal actions of one person within his or her company. Other times, these issues occur with parents of children that commit crimes through using items taken from home. This may occur with handguns, weapons or drugs.

Many vicarious liability issues are difficult to understand or even apply in a criminal justice case. When a company, agency, healthcare provider or entity is responsible for the actions of another, this could lead to criminal charges. Often, the law enforcement agency tasked with issuing the charges has taken time to research the matter fully and is aware of who is responsible and which party is in connection to the vicarious liability. When an employee is negligent or omits certain details or facts, he or she could commit a crime. When the employer or entire company is responsible for these individuals, the criminal charges may put the whole business in jeopardy.

Respondea Superior Explained

In vicarious liability, the term respondeat superior occurs with frequency. This is when the employer attached to a company, organization or agency becomes responsible for the actions of an employee. This usually involves any form of negligent act or an omission of this employee when acting within his or her scope of employment. The actions must remain valid and proper to retain the connection of vicarious liability. When the company or entity affected by these actions needs to respond legally, the courts issue that the business bears the legal brunt of the actions taken by workers.

Responsibility of the Acts of Others

While it is usually a company involved in these matters, sometimes a hospital becomes criminally involved in an investigation of a single employee. The healthcare facility may face vicarious liability in these instances when one employee engages in illegal activities. Similarly, and employer of the hospital could involve another individual in criminal actions and he or she then is responsible and liable for damages owed to another person. Criminal charges issued for these events often occur when there is enough evidence to try the person in the courtroom. Local law enforcement becomes involved and may investigate the matter specifically or with an agent getting to know the target.

An employee and employer relationship must exist for criminal charges to push through for vicarious liability. This is usually only possible when there is a right of control over the worker. This involves a right to alter the details and type of work that the person will perform at the property or within the company. In healthcare circumstances this may include when the manager is able to control what the employee has access to such as provision of evaluation, diagnosing and treating patients within the facility.

Criminal Defense Against Vicarious Liability

When criminally responsible for the acts of others, the person may need to hire a criminal defense lawyer to defend against allegations and charges. Protecting the client from possible prison terms and extensive fines is essential. Additionally, defense strategy could revolve around disproving the existence of vicarious liability based on the employer and employee relationship or the transfer of responsibility.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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