Is the Truck Driver or Trucking Company Responsible in a Truck Accident?
Accident victims often wonder if the truck driver or trucking company is responsible for a truck accident. The truck driver will always be responsible for negligently causing a trucking accident. But the truck driver will rarely have the financial resources to pay for the damages caused. Fortunately, in most cases, the trucking company is generally vicariously liable for its employee’s actions. This means they are responsible for the injuries and damages victims suffered.
Trucking companies must carry liability insurance that provides coverage for accident victims. This is the insurance carrier and policy with which we usually pursue a claim in these cases.
Proving Vicarious Liability in a Truck Accident Case
The owner of a commercial vehicle or the company that employs the driver is either vicariously liable — responsible on behalf of their employee — or directly liable for these accidents.
The most common way we can hold the trucking company responsible is through the doctrine of respondeat superior. Holding the trucker’s employer liable requires an accident victim to prove two things:
- The truck’s driver was employed through the company in question and working when the accident occurred; and
- The driver was acting within their job description, performing their duties and required tasks, when the accident occurred.
Beating the Independent Contractor Defense
In recent years, the trucking companies have tried to get out of their responsibility by labeling the truck drivers independent contractors. Under this defense, the trucking company claims the truck driver is a sole proprietor of their own trucking company and is independently contracting with the trucking company. The law does allow this setup for purposes of avoiding certain tax consequences. However, we can usually beat this defense for the purposes of holding the trucking company accountable for injuries caused by the truck driver’s actions.
In addition, in some cases, there may be a way to show the trucking company is directly liable for your accident and injuries. This may occur if:
- The company should have known about the trucker’s poor driving history before hiring them.
- The trucking company should not have retained the driver as an employee because of their previous behavior.
- The trucking company failed to maintain their truck or trailer.
- The trucking company’s negligence caused the accident in another way.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to tight deadlines set by trucking companies and a lack of training as safety concerns for truck drivers. Trucking companies are responsible for hiring, vetting, and training truck drivers. If they fail to meet proper standards then they should be held liable for the accident as well.
Act Quickly to Hold the Trucking Company Liable
We must take quick action following a truck accident, especially when the trucking company is likely the liable party. This is because much of the evidence we may need to prove your case belongs to the trucking company. The potential defendant in a civil lawsuit will likely not hand this evidence over easily and might even intentionally destroy or misplace it.
To this end, we need to preserve and protect all evidence in the case as soon as possible. We can do this by drafting a spoliation letter demanding that the company protect evidence such as the following:
- Data from the truck’s computer
- The trucker’s rest log
- Maintenance logs for the truck and trailer
- Dashcam video, if equipped
- Post-accident drug and alcohol test results
- Information from the driver’s employee file
- Damage to the truck and trailer
As soon as your injuries are stable, reach out to our team to let us review your case. We can get started right away if you qualify. We recover most payouts for our clients without ever needing to file.
You typically have two to four years to file a personal injury lawsuit and two years to file a wrongful death suit depending on which state you live in. Even though this may seem like a lot of time, there are many other steps we need to take before deciding to take a case to court.
Damages in a Truck Accident Case
Whether you are able to hold the truck driver or their employer liable for the collision, the damages you are able to pursue will be the same. Based on your documented losses, you may be able to recover compensation for damages such as the following:
- Ambulance transportation, injury evaluation, and emergency department costs
- Current and future treatment and medical care expenses
- Ongoing care needs
- Current and future lost wages and other income
- Diminished earning capacity
- Loss of services
- Property damages and vehicle repair
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to their accident and injuries
- Pain and suffering damages
Speak with Our Team About Your Accident Today for Free
Distasio Law Firm commits to putting our clients’ needs first. We provide the support and representation you need to focus your attention on healing from your injuries while we pursue damages in your case.
We provide complimentary reviews of truck accident cases to determine if we can hold the liable party responsible for your damages on your behalf. If so, we can provide the financial backing to investigate your accident and seek damages. Our firm will accept no payment from your family unless we recover compensation in your case. Our fees always come directly from the payout we secure, never from your bank account.
A team member from Distasio Law Firm will review your truck accident case at no cost to you today. Contact us now to get started.