Who is Liable in a Trucking Accident? Is the Truck Driver or the Trucking Company Liable for a Truck Wreck?August 8, 2017
In the immediate aftermath a truck wreck, it can be difficult to know the causes and at-fault parties – especially if injuries leave you debilitated and disoriented.
As you pick up the pieces, however, figuring out liability will be important to understanding your options for recovery and justice. To help you get started, the following reveals some essential questions to ask – and answer – as you focus on determining liability for your truck accident.
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How to Determine When a Trucker and/or Trucking Company Is Liable Party after a Truck Accident: 3 Questions to Answer
Police investigations and reports, coupled with evidence like witness statements and recordings from electronic onboard records (EOBRs), can reveal when the negligence of truck drivers contributes to a wreck.
When trucker negligence is a factor, it’s also possible that the motor carrier employing that trucker may be liable for the accident. Whether a trucking company is liable for the wrecks caused by its drivers will hinge on whether the legal theory of respondeat superior applies. Translating to “let the superior make answer,” this doctrine holds that an employer can be liable for the negligence of its employees under certain conditions.
Determining whether respondeat superior applies in a given truck wreck case can be revealed by answering these questions:
- Is the Truck Driver an Employee or an Independent Contractor? – If a trucker is classified as an independent contractor, (s)he will not be an employee of the trucking company. In such cases, trucking companies will generally not be responsible for an independent contractor’s negligent or reckless actions that cause accidents.In contrast, trucking companies can be liable for wrecks caused by drivers who are classified as employees. This distinction commonly motivates motor carriers to misclassify drivers as independent contractors (rather than employees) in an effort to limit or dodge liability.
- Did the Truck Wreck Occur during the Scope of Employment? – If the accident happened while the trucker was on-duty, working for the motor carrier, again, the trucking company can be liable for that crash. Alternatively, the company will not generally be liable for wrecks that its truckers cause while off-duty.In some cases, it’s not clear whether an accident occurred as part of the course of employment. When these uncertainties arise, the following are just some of the factors that can help uncover whether (or not) a wreck happened within the scope of employment:
- The time and location of the accident
- The nature of the driver’s job duties
- The amount of time granted for a driver’s personal activity
- The degree of freedom a driver has in carrying out his or her job duties.
- Was the Accident Caused by an Unintentional or Intentional Act? – While a trucking company can be liable for the unintentional acts that its driver employees cause within the scope of employment, the company will not generally be liable for a driver’s intentional torts that cause wrecks. For instance, a motor carrier will typically not be liable for a crash caused by a driver with road rage who intentionally runs into another vehicle (because, say, the other motorist cut him off or acting out of road rage aggression).
Find Out More about Your Potential Truck Wreck Claim: Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a truck wreck, you can turn to a truck accident lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm for exceptional representation and advocacy in the pursuit of financial recovery and justice.
Call (713) 352-7975, text (281) 612-8024 or email our firm for a free case evaluation. Let us answer your questions and provide you with the information you need to move forward with a potential claim and position it for success.
We represent truck accident survivors, as well as families who have lost loved ones in deadly wrecks, from across the U.S.