Proving Vicarious Liability in Truck Accident Cases

When you contact an Albany truck accident lawyer, you are mainly focused on getting compensation from the negligent trucker who injured you. However, a truck accident case may also extend to their employer. By proving vicarious liability, an experienced attorney may help you recover compensation for all your economic and non-economic damages.

Let us explain how vicarious liability works in these cases and how to prove it.

Employers Are Responsible for Their Employees’ Actions

The vicarious liability doctrine (also known as respondeat superior) states that an employer is responsible for the actions of the employees under their control. Since the employees are working exclusively for the employer’s benefit and under their instructions, everything they do reflects back on the employer.

This includes any traffic accidents caused by a negligent truck driver on duty.

The Main Challenge of Proving Vicarious Liability: It Does Not Cover Independent Contractors

Holding big trucking companies liable for your accident is not easy. Although they make millions of dollars in profit each year, they are fighting any insurance claim aggressively. Also, they use various tactics to avoid liability. The most common of them is claiming that their drivers are not employees, but independent contractors.

In this situation, vicarious liability is not applicable, because an independent contractor is not under the employer’s exclusive control. However, a skilled attorney may find ways to prove that the drivers are misclassified and that the true relationship with the company is employee – employer.

Common Ways in Which Trucking Companies Are Vicariously Liable in an Accident

Proving liability is essential in any truck accident case, not just for the driver, but also for the trucking company. The most frequent situations our attorneys have encountered over the years involve:

1. Negligent Hiring

Some trucking companies do not perform background checks diligently and end up hiring drivers with a long history of:

  • Negligence behind the wheel
  • Traffic violations
  • Drunk driving

The company was negligent in putting a driver who is likely to cause an accident behind the wheel of their truck. Once this is proven, your Albany truck accident lawyer will have a solid negotiating position.

trucking companies may be liable for the accidents caused by their drivers

2. Long Hours of Service

All commercial drivers must comply with the federal rules relating to hours of service and rest. In reality, many truck crashes are caused by driver fatigue. Trucking companies give their drivers unrealistic delivery deadlines.

In fear of losing their jobs, they skip mandatory rest hours and end up falling asleep behind the wheel. If this leads to your accident, the trucking company is just as liable as their driver to pay for your damages.

3. Poorly Maintained Trucks

A truck that is not on the road carrying goods is not producing money. And trucking companies want to keep all their vehicles on the road, no matter what. This means skipping maintenance checks and necessary repairs.

If malfunctioning brakes or steering is the primary cause of the truck accident, the trucker’s employer is also liable for failing to keep their vehicles roadworthy.

4. Excess Cargo

Each type of truck has a maximum loading limit. Exceeding this limit may cause maneuvering problems, which often lead to loss of control over the truck and jackknifing accidents (when a passenger car is caught between the tractor head and the trailer).

In this situation, the trucking company or the owner of the cargo (or both of them) may be liable for the accident under the vicarious liability doctrine.

Schedule a Free Case Review with a Skilled Albany Truck Lawyer!

Any Albany truck accident lawyer at Joe Durham Jr., P.C, knows how hard it is to hold big trucking companies liable for their negligence. However, with a skilled attorney on your side, the impossible becomes possible.

You will get fair compensation for your economic losses, pain and suffering and ongoing health problems caused by your injuries. We encourage you to call us as soon as possible after your accident and schedule a free case evaluation at 229-210-6226!

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