Thousands of truck accidents that happen each year on American highways can be traced back to the mistakes of the truckers who were driving at the time of those collisions. But truck drivers are not always the only ones who can be held financially liable for their negligence. In some situations, the trucking company that hired, contracted, or otherwise paid that truck driver can also be found liable, which opens up a new opportunity for the injured claimant or plaintiff to get the compensation they deserve.
Respondeat Superior in Truck Accident Cases
There is an important legal concept called respondeat superior that makes an employer liable for the actions of their workers to a reasonable degree. If a worker causes an injury within the scope of their employment, then the employer can be held financially liable for not taking the appropriate steps to prevent the actions or misdeeds that contributed to the injury. Respondeat superior does not promise that the individual employee won’t be liable for their own actions, but rather makes it more likely that liability will be split between the worker and their employer, evenly or not.
The application of respondeat superior works for both on-the-clock employees and independent contractors in some situations. This detail of the rule is important for truck accident claims because many truckers aren’t employees. Instead, they are contracted to complete deliveries as needed.
In either situation, respondeat superior allows many truck accident claimants to name the trucking company as a defendant or liable party. The insurance policies held by the trucking company will likely be larger than those held by the trucker, so naming both as defendants is a reliable way of expanding the potential reward owed to the claimant. Otherwise, there is a good risk that the cap on the trucker’s insurance policy will make it impossible to be fairly compensated for injuries and related damages.
Other Ways Trucking Companies Become Liable
Respondeat superior is not the only way that a trucking company can become tangentially liable for the mistakes of their employees. There are many mistakes or acts of negligence a trucking company can make that will link them more directly to a crash.
Trucking companies can assume some liability for a truck accident if they:
- Hire unqualified drivers: All employers have a responsibility to only hire people who are qualified to perform the required roles. Trucking companies who hire unqualified drivers like those with dangerous driving histories or no commercial driver’s license are effectively putting other drivers in harm’s way whenever that trucker is on the road.
- Do not offer adequate training: Trucking companies should create training courses for truck drivers who need more experience behind the wheel of a commercial big rig. Training should also be enforced among veteran truck drivers to ensure all employees are still driving as safely as possible.
- Poorly supervise their drivers: Driving records, break logs, and maintenance schedules should be kept by all truck drivers. Trucking companies should frequently review those documents for any inconsistencies or errors. A lack of supervision can create a surplus of danger.
- Create unreasonably long driving schedules: One of the most common ways trucking companies contribute to truck accidents is by allowing a truck driver to work an unreasonably long shift. Truck drivers can drive for 11 hours a day under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines, and some can stay on the road even longer due to loopholes. However, this does not mean it is reasonable to let someone drive for that long and expect them not to become exhausted.
Helping You Hold All Parties Liable
Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, PLLC is a trusted truck accident law firm for clients throughout Virginia. We have the experience and know-how required to file a claim against all liable parties, which could be the truck driver, the trucking company that hired them, and others. The bottom line is that we go above and beyond what you might expect from a team of attorneys to secure as much compensation for you as possible. Find out more about how our firm can help with your truck accident claim or lawsuit by arranging a free consultation today.