Driver or Company: Determining Liability in a Truck Accident

Truck drivers are prone to injuries and accidents because of their long work hours and harsh working conditions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a total of 4,761 large truck fatalities occurred in 2017. Truck drivers account for 1,300 of these deaths, with the remaining percentage comprising other victims of the collision.

Truck Accident Laws

Truck accident laws dictate that the occupants of the passenger vehicle must be compensated for their injuries if the truck driver is at fault. These accidents generally follow the respondeat superior doctrine, which directly translates to “let the superior answer.” This means that the company must be responsible for accidents caused by its employees.

Under this principle, the owner-operator is liable for the missteps of their truck driver employees if the acts were unintentional or occurred while on duty. The rationale is that crashes and accidents are occupational hazards. And if these are bound to happen in the course of the driver’s employment, then they should not be liable for the incidents.

The employer is also more financially capable of shouldering the affected motorist’s damages. The company can protect itself from large payouts by purchasing insurance and spreading the cost over the entire business.

Gig Economy and Independent Contractors

driving a truck

But the gig economy complicates this ruling. Many truck drivers aren’t employees of the company they work for; they’re independent contractors.

Truck drivers are independent contractors if they operate their vehicle, work on their own hours, and don’t receive training from their employers. Although this setup may be beneficial for some truck drivers, it also has downsides.

There is no employer-employee relationship in this situation, which means that the owner-operator of the truck fleet may not be liable for the wrongful acts of their independent contractors. Independent contractors must rely on their own pockets or insurance policies if ever they get into an accident.

These information can help you in the unfortunate event that you get into a collision with a truck. An experienced truck accident attorney can also help you strengthen and direct your case toward the right person.

Who do You Sue?

Direct your personal injury claims toward the driver if he or she is an independent contractor. The driver’s insurance policy will likely cover your damages.

It also pays to know whether the driver owns the truck he or she is operating. If not, you can sue the owner instead. But check the truck driver’s contract to see if there’s a clause saying that the company is not responsible for the contractor’s negligence.

If the driver is an employee, you can make your personal injury claim to the company. But the crash must have occurred within the scope of employment, which means that the accident must have happened while the driver was fulfilling work duties.

The driver’s actions must not be intentional, otherwise, you sue him or her instead of the employer. The company generally isn’t liable for the employee’s intentional torts, such as assault, battery, and kidnapping.

It’s your right to pursue compensation for your personal injuries in an accident. A claim can help lessen the burden of your recovery financially. But it’s also important to be smart and strategic with your case. Knowing these facts is the first step in building a solid case that can increase your chances of winning.

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