Vicarious Liability Definition

Legal responsibility that one individual or entity bears when someone else has actually committed the act leading to liability. Vicarious liability often arises when there is some sort of supervisorial relationship (like employment), and the subordinate (such as an employee) commits some type of wrongful or negligent act. So, if the employee driver of a delivery company causes a traffic accident, the company might be on the legal hook for injuries and property damage resulting from the incident.

A principal-associate relationship can also trigger this type of liability. For example, the owner of a residential rental may be vicariously liable if the building manager discriminates against tenants on the basis of their religion.

Finally, in most states parents and legal guardians can be vicariously liable for certain wrongful and injurious acts committed by their children, under what are often called "parental responsibility" laws.