When you get into an accident with another passenger vehicle, who can you hold liable? The (somewhat) simplified answer is that the driver of the other vehicle is usually the person who will be held liable, so long as the driver actually caused the accident. But what about accidents involving passenger vehicles and trucks? Is the truck driver liable as an individual the same way a passenger vehicle driver would be liable? Could the truck driver’s employer also be held liable? In this post, we will take a look at how liability for truck accidents can be apportioned among several key parties
Potentially Liable Parties
The trucking industry is vast and is composed of many individual parties working in concert to get the job done. As such, liability for accidents can often be shared among multiple defendants. A few of the most common parties that can be held liable for truck accidents include:
The Trucking Company
The legal doctrine of respondeat superior holds that employers can be held liable for the wrongful acts of their employees or agents so long as those acts occur within the scope of the employment or agency. This doctrine is based on the theory that, since employers typically exercise a great deal of control over the acts of their employees, the employer can be held vicariously liable for any wrongdoing on the part of the employee. Because many (but not all) truck drivers are considered to be employees of trucking companies, those same trucking companies can be held liable for accidents caused by their drivers.
The Truck Driver
One notable exception to the doctrine of respondeat superior involves independent contractors, to whom the doctrine does not apply. Persons or companies who engage independent contractors are exempted from the rule under the theory that they exercise far less control over the independent contractor’s actions than they would in an employer/employee relationship. Thus, if a court determines that an individual truck driver was acting as an independent contractor rather than as an employee of a trucking company, only the driver can be held liable.
Manufacturers and Sellers of Component Truck Parts
Liability for truck accidents can extend even beyond the driver and his or her employer in certain circumstances. For example, consider a scenario in which a truck accident was caused not by driver error but by a blown tire. It is then discovered that that particular model of tire contained a design defect that made it highly susceptible to blowing out at normal speeds. In that case, the manufacturer of the tire could also be held liable for the accident.
Other potentially liable parties include additional third parties whose actions contributed to the accident. For example, if a trucking company hires the services of an outside contractor to load freight onto its trucks, that contractor could be held liable if its improper loading was the cause of the accident. A mechanic or auto repair shop could also be held liable if the accident was caused by improper repairs.
Contact a Waldorf Truck Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a truck accident, you will need competent representation to help you determine the liable party and pursue a claim against them. Contact the Waldorf truck accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Thomas E. Pyles at 301-705-5006 for a consultation.