When you get hurt in a car accident it's bad enough, but when a truck is involved the situation gets far worse. Not only do injuries tend to be far more catastrophic due to the size and mass of the vehicle, it can be really hard to even know who to hold responsible.
With two cars, one or the other driver holds responsibility. With a truck driver, they may hold some responsibility while a range of other entities from the loading company to the trucking company and even the manufacturer of truck parts could be at fault. Learn how to know when the trucking company is responsible for a truck accident and where you need to go to get help seeking compensation for your injuries.
Responsibility for a Truck Accident
The core factor that comes into play for any vehicle accident is negligence. Negligence means that you have to prove that someone acted in a manner that was contrary to the way any other reasonable person would act in a similar situation. This means they violated a basic duty not to put others in danger, and that violation resulted in the accident that caused you harm.
It can be tempting to assume that because the driver caused the truck accident, they are the ones responsible. While certainly it may be true that they hold some responsibility, there are other factors that come into play as well.
Holding the Trucking Company Responsible
There are laws in place that require companies to be responsible for the conduct of their employees who are on the clock. This is known as the legal concept of respondeat superior. It means, literally, “Let the superior make answer.” Thus, if the driver is acting irresponsibly, the employer can be liable for those actions. The idea is that employers are responsible for keeping their employees in line and acting in a reasonable manner.
Employees vs. Independent Contractors
The primary factor comes down to whether the driver is an independent contractor or an employee. While this differs from place to place, in general if the employer can control the way the driver does their job, then the driver is an employee and the company might hold responsibility.
However, if the driver is using their own truck, their own gas, working on their own schedule and carrying their own liability insurance, and is getting no benefits from the company, they are likely an independent contractor and responsible for their own actions.
Intention forms a major exception to respondeat superior. If the driver was behaving in an intentionally malicious way — they deliberately rammed your car, chased you down, or otherwise engaged in deliberate action to harm you, the company isn't usually liable.
Calling an Attorney
Because these cases can get complicated really quickly, your best chance to receive significant compensation for the injuries you've suffered is to call an experienced local truck accident attorney. If you're in Florida and would like advice or help with your case, call the Koberlein Law Offices for a free evaluation of your case today.