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Understanding Indirect Liability for a Personal Injury

Personal Injury

In personal injury cases, the person (or company) that causes a victim’s injury will often be directly liable for the victim’s losses. In Ohio, this includes liability not only for the victim’s financial losses (i.e., medical bills and lost wages) but also for the victim’s non-financial losses (i.e., pain and suffering) as well.

But, in some cases, this person (or company) won’t be the only one that is responsible. Under Ohio law, accident victims can also pursue claims for indirect liability in some circumstances. This can be important for a few key reasons, and when seeking damages in a personal injury case, it is imperative that victims work with an experienced lawyer to maximize their chances of a full recovery.

5 Examples of Indirect Liability Claims in Ohio Personal Injury Cases

So, what is an indirect liability claim in an Ohio personal injury case? Here are five common examples:

1. Employers’ Vicarious Liability for Their Employees’ Negligence

One of the most common types of indirect liability claims in personal injury claims involves suing an employer for an employee’s negligence. Under Ohio law, employers are “vicariously liable” for their employees’ negligent acts within the scope of their employment.

Let’s say you were involved in a car accident with a work van or delivery truck. An investigation might reveal that the work van’s or delivery truck’s driver is directly liable for the accident as a result of being distracted or careless behind the wheel. But, in this scenario, the driver’s employer could also be indirectly liable—if the driver was working at the time of the collision.

2. Strict Liability for Product Defects

Indirect liability can also arise in personal injury cases involving product defects. For example, let’s say you were injured in a car accident, but this time your lawyer’s investigation reveals that the other driver lost control because his or her brakes failed. In this scenario, the manufacturer of the other driver’s vehicle could be liable. Even though the manufacturer wasn’t directly involved in the accident (because one of its employees wasn’t behind the wheel), the manufacturer could still be indirectly liable since an issue with one of its vehicles caused the crash.

3. Government Liability for Road Hazards and Dangerous Construction Zones

Another common scenario in which car accident victims can pursue indirect liability claims in Ohio involves an accident caused by a road hazard or a dangerous construction zone. Under Ohio law, the government has a responsibility to ensure that public roads are safe for public use. If a crash happens because a driver hits a pothole or has to swerve in order to avoid a hazard on a dimly lit road, these are both examples of situations in which the government could be deemed indirectly liable.

4. “Keeper” Liability in Dog Bite Cases

Dog bite cases will frequently involve indirect liability claims as well. This is based on Ohio’s law regarding the responsibility of “keepers” and “harborers.”

In most dog bite cases, the dog’s owner is “strictly liable” for the victim’s injuries. This means that the owner can be held liable regardless of whether the dog has attacked or shown a vicious propensity in the past. But, keepers and harborers can also be held indirectly liable if they are responsible for allowing attacks to occur. For example, if a kennel fails to prevent a dog from attacking another dog’s owner, the kennel could be responsible (or at least partially responsible) for the victim’s injuries.

5. Subcontractor Liability in Work Injury Cases

Another example of a common indirect liability claim involves filing a claim against a subcontractor in a work injury case. Under Ohio law, employees who are eligible for workers’ compensation cannot file personal injury claims against their employers in most cases. But, injured employees can sue other companies, and, in many cases, this will involve suing a subcontractor that is responsible for creating a dangerous property condition or sending an unqualified employee to a construction site or other work location.

Why It Is Important to Pursue an Indirect Liability Claim When Possible

If you think you have a direct personal injury claim in Ohio, you might be wondering why it would be necessary to file an indirect claim related to your accident. There are actually three very important reasons why this might be the case:

  • The Directly Liable Party Might Not Have Adequate Insurance Coverage – One reason why it might be necessary to file an indirect liability claim is that the directly liable party might not have adequate insurance coverage. For example, in the case of a car accident, there is a good chance that the at-fault driver will only have the minimum coverage required under Ohio law. This coverage isn’t nearly enough to cover all of the costs of suffering a severe traumatic injury.
  • The Directly Liable Party Might Not Have Any Insurance Coverage – Another concern is that the directly liable party won’t have any insurance coverage at all. Despite Ohio’s auto insurance requirements, many drivers are uninsured. Additionally, not all dog owners have insurance that provides coverage in the event of an attack. If the directly liable party is uninsured, filing an indirect liability claim could be the only practical option for recovering just compensation.
  • Filing Multiple Claims May Be Necessary Under Ohio’s “Joint and Several Liability” Law – Finally, under Ohio’s “joint and several liability” law, in some cases, it will be necessary to file multiple claims in order to recover full compensation. If a party is less than 50 percent liable for a victim’s injuries, then that party cannot be held responsible for 100 percent of the victim’s losses.

Discuss Your Personal Injury Claim with an Experienced Attorney in Columbus, Ohio

Do you have questions about filing an indirect liability claim after an accident in Ohio? If so, we strongly encourage you to speak with one of our personal injury lawyers as soon as possible. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Malek & Malek Law Firm, call 888-444-7440 or tell us how we can reach you online now.