Vicarious Liability Law and Legal Definition

Vicarious liability refers to liability for the negligent or criminal acts of another person that is assigned to someone by law. Vicarious liability exists when liability is attributed to a person who has control over or responsibility for another who negligently causes an injury or otherwise would be liable. Whenever an agency relationship exists, the principal is responsible for the agent's actions.

For example, an employer of an employee who injures someone through negligence while in the scope of employment is vicariously liable for damages to the injured person. In contrast, a defendant who engages an independent contractor is not liable to others for the acts or omissions of the independent contractor. An independent contractor is a person who performs services for another person under an express or implied agreement and who is not subject to the other's control, or right to control, over the manner and means of performing the services.