If you’re involved in an accident with a truck it’s important to determine who is legally liable for your injuries. Situations will vary regarding the employment of the driver. There are some key questions to ask to determine liability in Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Is the Driver an Employee or Independent Contractor?
The first thing the injured person must show is whether the driver of the truck is an employee of the company or an indepenent contractor. That’s because a company is generally not liable for wrongful acts committed by independent contractors.
Although each state’s laws may differ, generally the emphasis is placed on whether the employer has the right to control the detailed manner and means that the work must be performed. If the employer controls the result of the work, but not how the result is accomplished, then an independent contractor relationship is established.
When is a Company Liable for Its Driver’s Conduct?
Respondeat superior is the primary theory of liability that holds a company responsible for a traffic accident caused by a truck driver employee. Respondeat superior is a Latin phrase that means “let the superior make answer.”
Under this principle, an employer is liable for the wrongful acts committed by its employees or agents, provided the acts were unintentional and were committed within the scope of employment. Essentially, respondeat superior imputes the employee’s liability to the employer, making the employer liable as if it had committed the wrongful act itself.
The policy governing this rule is a realization that, practically speaking, certain wrongful conduct is bound to occur during the course of the employer’s business. As a result, the losses caused by this wrongful conduct should be placed on the employer as a cost of doing business.
Which Acts are “Within The Scope Of Employment”?
Determining what constitutes an act committed “within the scope of employment” can be a difficult task. Courts have adopted a number of factors to help resolve this issue. Although each state’s laws may differ, common factors can include:
Contact An Attorney
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a truck driver, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experienced attornies.