This chapter examines several doctrines which may cause one person to become liable for the acts of another. When one person is made liable for the torts of another, we say that the former is “vicariously liable.” The most important ways this can happen are as follows:
A. Nature of doctrine: The doctrine of vicarious liability provides that in some situations, the tortious act of one person may be imputed to another, because of some special relationship between the two. As a result, the latter will be held liable, even though his own conduct may have been completely blameless. The most frequent situation in which vicarious liability exists is that involving tortious acts (usually negligent ones) committed by an employee; under appropriate circumstances, the employer is held vicariously liable for the tort.
1. Other relationships: In addition to the employer-employee situation, vicarious liability may exist because of an employer-independent contractor relationship, a “joint enterprise” relationship, a family relationship (where a “common family purpose” is involved), etc.