Employer Liability in Trucking Accidents
Accidents involving large 18-wheelers on the roadways of North Carolina often result in devastating injuries for those inside traditional passenger vehicles. In the aftermath of these incidents, it is crucial to determine liability. You also need to know whether or not the trucking company could be held liable for the incident. Here, we want to discuss the theory of vicarious liability as well as the types of evidence that may be necessary to reach a successful conclusion for your truck accident claim.
How a Truck Driver Employer Could be Liable for a Crash
When most people think of truck accidents being the fault of someone other than those in traditional passenger vehicles, they think of the truck driver. That makes sense because the truck driver is the one actually at the scene of the crash. However, the driver may not be the one to actually hold liability for this situation. At least, they will not be the one to pay for the damages out of their own pocket in most circumstances.
What we will find is that trucking companies, those who employ the truck driver, will likely be held liable for a truck crash, even if the driver causes the incident. This theory of vicarious liability means that the actions of the driver, so long as the driver was performing job-related duties, will be the responsibility of the trucking company. If the truck driver causes a crash due to their negligence, the insurance or assets of the trucking company will pay damages to injury or property damage victims.
Additionally, there may be times when a truck company could be held directly responsible due to their own actions and not the actions of the driver. For example, trucking companies are responsible for regularly inspecting and maintaining each vehicle, per regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If the failure of the truck or a part of the truck is the reason that a crash occurred, and the trucking company failed to regularly inspect or maintain their vehicles, they could be held liable for the incident.
Additionally, the truck company could be held liable for:
- Failing to properly train drivers
- Failing to follow adequate hiring practices
- Encouraging drivers to overload the trucks or operate long hours
What About Owner-Operators?
Employer liability can become complicated because many large truck drivers on the roadway are also owner-operators of the trucks they drive. This means that the driver and the owner are essentially the same people. However, this does not change the fact that the “employer” in this situation, the driver, could be held responsible for an accident if one occurs. If the driver’s negligence causes the accident in any way, they could be held completely or partially responsible.
Contact an Attorney Immediately
If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a truck accident caused by the negligent actions of another individual or entity in North Carolina, we encourage you to reach out to a Raleigh truck accident attorney as soon as possible. It can be very challenging to determine liability in the aftermath of a trucking accident. An attorney can get involved early, conduct a complete investigation into the incident, and help uncover the evidence needed to prove what happened. The ultimate goal is to ensure that crash victims recover compensation for medical bills, property damage expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering losses, and more.