Assessing Driver vs. Employer Liability in Trucking Accident Cases

Categories: Truck Accident

blackfin truck and car driving in the rain

When a commercial truck is involved in a motor vehicle accident, an attorney is immediately consulted. Semi-trucks are extremely large vehicles, and their collisions almost always result in serious property damage and devastating injuries. State and federal laws regulate truckers and their companies – which makes filing claims against negligent drivers even more complex. In some cases, it may be difficult to identify who is truly responsible for the accident. If you are attempting to determine liability in an accident, it is imperative that you first understand how the driver is characterized, his or her scope of employment, and his or her intent.

Employee Characterization

To hold a trucking company responsible for the accident of its employee, the plaintiff must first show that the driver was an actual employee of the company – not a subcontractor. Trucking companies are not liable for the wrongful acts of independent contractors, and trucking companies often attempt to escape liability by purposely hiring their drivers on an independent contractor basis. However, if the plaintiff can show that the company has trained the driver, assumed costs for repairs, given the driver benefits, or set his or her work schedule, the plaintiff may be able to show that the driver is, in fact, an employee; therefore, the company is liable for his or her actions.

Scope of Employment

In order for a trucking company to be liable, the driver must be acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident. Courts will consider the employee’s intent, time of the accident, place of the accident, and the amount of liberties given to the driver while performing his or her duties.

For example, a driver and company can both be held liable when the accident occurred while the driver was making a delivery. However, if the driver left work early to attend a private event, but was involved in an accident on his or her way, it becomes more difficult to prove that the company is liable, too.

Assessing Intentional Acts

Companies are liable for all unintentional acts of their employees, as long as those employees were acting within the scope of their employment. A company will not be held liable for injuries caused by its employee’s intentional acts. For example, if a truck driver causes an accident out of road rage, the employer is not liable.

Determining Liability Requires Expert Assistance – Contact The Law Offices of B. Clarke Nash, P.C.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a semi-truck, determining liability can be an issue. Contact attorney B. Clarke Nash today for assistance. He and his team will investigate your accident, determine liability, and hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Get started with a no-obligation consultation by calling 912-200-5292, or request your consultation online.