How to Determine Truck Accident Liability

Determining who is responsible in an accident with a semi-truck can get complicated quickly. In addition to the driver who may have been at fault, the trucking company and their insurance company all come into play and are all working to pay as little as possible. Learn about who is responsible, or liable, in a truck accident.

In accidents where it is clear the truck driver is at fault, motorists should also consider the trucking company the driver was working for when the accident occurred.

Truck accident liability can include the trucking company under a legal principle that dictates a company is responsible for its employee’s wrongful or negligent acts.

Additionally, truck accident liability may be the responsibility of the trucking company if their policies and procedures led to unsafe actions by their drivers. State and federal laws regulate the operation of semi-trucks and their drivers, including rest stops, training, and maintenance. Unfortunately, trucking companies may skirt these rules in the name of profit and speed.

Truck accident liability gets more complicated if the truck driver is an independent contractor, rather than a regular employee of the company. Whether the truck driver is considered an employee or independent contractor depends on the amount of control the company has over how the trucker operates.

Truckers who use their own rig, buy their own gas, insurance, and pay to maintain their vehicle are usually considered independent contractors. Other factors include whether they receive employee benefits and the amount of control the company has over how the trucker makes their deliveries.

Although companies argue that they should not be responsible for the acts of independent contractors, if the accident was caused by a policy or procedure dictated by the company, they can still be liable. For example, if the trucker was speeding to make an unreasonable deadline set by the company, the company may be liable for any resulting accident caused by that speeding.

Other considerations in determining truck accident liability include if the truck driver was considered to be working for the company at the time of the accident. If the driver was on their own time on personal business, they may not be considered working for the company. Alternatively, if the truck driver was making deliveries for the company at the time of the accident, then the company would likely be liable.

commercial-truck-accidentsA final factor can include whether the truck driver acted intentionally to harm the other driver in the accident.

Truck accident liability is usually limited to the truck driver if they intentionally caused an accident.

Because of their size and weight, semi-truck accidents are more dangerous than regular motor vehicle accidents.

Severe injuries, including high medical expenses, property damage and even death, are more likely in a trucking accident. Further, smaller passenger vehicles are more likely to bear the brunt of damages caused by a semi-truck accident.

Truck accident liability can be complicated. There are a number of state and federal laws that can apply and trucking companies as well as their insurance agencies are all trying to pay the smallest amount to get out of any legal claims.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, contact the attorneys at McDonald Worley to help evaluate your claim.


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