Who’s at Fault in a Commercial Truck Wreck: The Driver or the Employer?
Employer Liability in Trucking Accidents
Each year, nearly 3.5 million commercial vehicles are used in the United States, carrying loads of goods, supplies, and cargo for companies ranging from small businesses to international corporations. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2013, large trucks were involved in approximately 350,000 police-reported traffic crashes, which collectively claimed the lives of nearly 3,500 people and injured some 95,000 more.
Oftentimes, victims of commercial vehicle collisions are unsure whether the driver, the employer, or other parties should be held liable for injuries. This complex issue depends on a variety of factors, which is why it is important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side.
Who’s to Blame?
The Truck Driver
Commercial vehicle drivers are required by law to comply with a number of rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), not only to protect the driver but also to ensure the safety of fellow travelers on the road. Failing to adhere to those rules could mean the truck driver is liable for an accident.
Some of these common mistakes include:
- Driving while fatigued
- Violating Hours of Service regulations
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failing to follow traffic laws
- Overloading the vehicle
- Failing to adequately maintain equipment
If a driver operates as a true independent contractor, then he or she would likely be held responsible for the incident. Many trucking companies, however, designate their employees as independent contractors to minimize the company’s risk, and it takes a skilled personal injury attorney to determine if either the driver or the company should be held liable.
The Trucking Company
Just as with commercial vehicle drivers, trucking companies are required by law to comply with FMCSA rules and regulations, and failure to do so may make them vulnerable to liability.
Trucking companies are typically held responsible for incidents caused by their employees who are acting within the scope of employment, even if the employee fails to abide by company policies. A company may also be to blame if it was shown to have been negligent in its hiring practices or to have placed unreasonable expectations or pressure on its drivers, compelling them to engage in unsafe behaviors.
If a truck’s equipment, including tires, brakes, lights, horn, and other important safety features, was defective due to manufacturer error, then the manufacturer may be to blame for a collision.
Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you have been involved in a wreck caused by a commercial vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Wrongful death of a loved one
- Permanent disabilities
- Damages to your automobile and other property
- Time off work
Zinda Law Group has built a reputation for securing successful outcomes for clients involved in commercial vehicle collisions. Our experienced team will not only serve as your personal advocate but also show care and compassion to you throughout the legal process and beyond. If you have sustained an injury in a truck wreck, call 888-337-9042 for a free consultation about your case.