Legal-Ease: Latin words provide legal clarity in accidents

Lee R. Schroeder is an Ohio licensed attorney at Schroeder Law LLC in Putnam County. He limits his practice to business, real estate, estate planning and agriculture issues in northwest Ohio. He can be reached at or at 419-659-2058. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice, and specific advice should be sought from the licensed attorney of your choice based upon the specific facts and circumstances that you face.

Latin terms and phrases appear in legal discussions for a variety of reasons. One of the common legal areas where one might encounter such a phrase involves determining responsibility between an employee and an employer in the case of mishap.

A key determining factor in legal responsibility is whether the incident occurred within the normal scope of work. Until this fact is clear, both employer and employee are named  in lawsuits related to accidents. The concept that helps analyze legal responsibility between employers and employees also sets the foundation of protections offered by LLCs.

Attorneys often use various Latin phrases in their work. One of the most popular of those Latin phrases is “respondeat superior,” which literally means let the master answer. This phrase has nothing to do with slavery, even though any mention of “master” can hint at such an intention.

Respondeat superior is most often used by attorneys in analyzing employees’ mistakes, accidents or other mishaps that cause damage within the course of the employees’ work. In such situations, the employer is usually responsible to whomever is hurt or damaged. Essentially, an employee is the extension of the employer when the employee is acting for the employer.

Read more about “respondeat superior” in Lee’s article for the Lima News, “Legal-Ease: Latin words provide legal clarity in accidents.”

Source:, “Legal-Ease: Latin words provide legal clarity in accidents,” by Lee R. Schroeder, March 18, 2017.

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