If you are injured in an accident involving a truck, you can hold the trucking company responsible for your damages, depending on the circumstance. However, holding a trucking company liable can be overwhelming, and it is never a good idea to navigate the claim on your own.
Unlike other accidents where proving liability is relatively straightforward, legal liability in a truck accident may be a little more complicated. This is mainly due to the kind of evidence needed to prove negligence.
Respondeat Superior Theory
The employing truck company is responsible for accidents caused by their drivers under the respondeat superior theory. Respondeat superior is a Latin phrase meaning “let the superior answer.” Under this theory, an employer is liable for acts of their employees as long as they were not deliberate and were committed while in their course and scope of employment.
When determining acts within the scope of employment, the court tends to look at the employee’s intent at the time of the accident. Judges may also consider the time and place the crash occurred and the nature of work they are employed to do.
The Company Has A Responsibility
There are several state and federal regulations that trucking companies must follow. If a trucking crash occurred when the trucking company violated those regulations, they are liable for an accident related to their truck.
Usually, the trucking company’s responsibility is to keep their trucks’ maintenance up to date. If a trucking crash occurs while a truck is behind schedule in maintenance, your lawyer can use their maintenance records as evidence of negligence.
Trucking companies must also abide by federal laws that govern the hours a driver can drive before taking a break. “Truck drivers working long hours results in driver fatigue, which is a main contributor to trucking crashes due to being overworked,” says Attorney Andrew Kryder of the The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers.
A company that disregards the regulations and encourages its drivers to work beyond legal service hours will be held liable for damages if drivers are involved in a trucking crash. Fortunately, most commercial vehicles have an inbuilt Electronic Logging Device (ELD) that your attorney can access from the trucking company to determine if the driver was driving beyond the hours of service limit.
Another major factor in determining liability in a trucking crash is the level of fault. It is not always automatic that a truck is at fault in an accident. Therefore, it is essential to gather every piece of evidence at the scene to help determine fault. Assuming that the police come to the scene of the accident, retrieving a copy of the police report can help your lawyer determine fault.
If the involved driver is an independent contractor with the trucking company, the trucking company cannot be held for their negligent actions. Under such circumstances, your lawyer can help you file a claim against the negligent driver.
Even if a driver is an employee, the employer may be absolved from liability if the accident’s actions were intentional. However, if the driver had a history of similar conduct, the employer can be held liable for not conducting a background check as required by law.