Who Is Held Liable When Someone Is injured In A Truck Accident?

Trucks, while important and an integral part of the American economy, are also responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths a year. They pose a substantial risk on the road and can harm innocent drivers and their passengers. In 2015, statistics show that close to 4,000 people died in large truck crashes in the United States.

Determining who is liable in an accident involving a semi-truck can be difficult to determine. This is true even if the driver of the commercial truck was clearly at fault. Determining who is legally liable for damages can be difficult. For this reason, it’s suggested that you consult an experienced personal injury lawyer in Oakville for legal advice if you’ve been injured or had a loved one killed in an accident with a commercial truck. Sometimes the company the driver was working for can be found legally liable for the driver’s negligence as long as it was unintentional and happened within the scope of the driver’s employment.

Determining Liability

When the company is charged with the negligent act of the driver this is called responeat superior. If this applies will depend on several factors:

• Was the driver an employee of the trucking company or an independent contractor?
• Did the accident causing injury or death happen within the scope of the driver’s employment?
• Was the negligent behavior intentional or unintentional?

A company is generally only liable for the actions of its employees. If a person is driving as an independent contractor for a commercial company, that company is usually not legally responsible for any negligence by the contractor they hired to drive. To be considered an independent contractor, the driver uses their own truck, has their own liability insurance and is paid only for services rendered. No taxes or benefits are paid to the driver by the company.

It’s generally easy to distinguish an employee. What proves to be a bigger challenge is describing exactly what scope of employment is. There are a number of factors to consider including the time, nature, the location, the driver’s job description, and the amount of freedom the company will allow a driver during the performance of their duty. The intention of the driver at the time of the accident is also considered.

Intentional Injury in a Truck Accident

When determining who is liable for injuries and damages in a truck accident, it should be noted that while the company could be liable for accidents caused by its employees, the company will generally not be liable if the employee intentionally caused an accident resulting in damages, injury or death. Let’s say the driver experiences road rage and intentionally hits a specific person. The driver was acting outside the scope of their employment which most often means the company will not be held liable for damages.

Driver Breaking the Law

Trucking companies, their employees and the independent truckers they hire need to follow state and federal regulations. These include the hours the driver can ride, the kind of training the driver must have and the amount of weight the truck can carry. If a person becomes injured as a direct violation of company or state laws and regulations, this can increase the chances that the injured party’s lawsuit gets settled favorably out of court or a lawsuit goes through.

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