Who’s at Fault for Truck Accident | Theory of Truck Injury Liability
It is no mystery that truck accidents pose a greater risk of injury to victims compared to other motor vehicle accidents. This is primarily due to the truck’s mass, and the skill required in handling these large vehicles. Further complicating matters is that trucks often carry heavy and hazardous materials that can not only result in personal injuries and fatalities, but also environmental hazards and consequences.
In addition to the severity of the accident, truck accident cases are far more complex because there are several different potential liable parties and actions that give rise to the accident. In other words, the cause of the accident can be a result of far more than just the actions of the driver. This is crucial in truck accident litigation; because injuries from truck accidents are so high, several different parties can be held liable for the damages.
Below is a list of the different theories of liability in truck accidents, as well as who could potentially be held accountable.
Because most large truck serve some sort of industrial or business purpose, the companies that employ and manage these trucks are often responsible for the consequences of the truck accident. These companies are liable when the truck driver is acting within the scope of his or her employment . Therefore, if the accident occurred while the truck driver was driving on a personal matter, the business could argue that they are not responsible for the damages.
Employer liability can become tricky, as some driver actions can be construed as outside the scope of employment, even when they are on the job.
Negligent Hiring or Negligent Entrustment
similar to employer liability, companies could be held at fault for truck accidents under the theory of negligent hiring. A company would be held liable if they knew or should have known not to employ the driver, yet they did anyways. Common negligent hiring issues relate to the skill and history of the driver, and whether the business investigated the competency of the driver.
Lease liability is the theory that a trucking company is responsible for truck accident due to a leased driver’s actions. Under this notion, the company is responsible because they
allowed the driver to use their commercial truck under their authorization.
More and more, insurance companies are assuming a larger role in the activities of trucking companies. Especially with smaller businesses, companies are relying on large insurance companies in the hiring of drivers. In essence, the insurance company reviews the qualifications of the truck driver and determines whether or not they will provide coverage. Therefore, insurance companies could be held liable under similar negligent hiring theories.
A common type of truck accident occurs not as a result of driver negligence, but rather when the objects or materials carried on the truck are not properly fastened. In this scenario, flying debris or other objects cause an accident to other vehicles. As heavy materials are loaded onto the truck, it is essential that they are safely loaded and secured onto the truck. This is especially true when the truck has an open bed or other opening where the transported goods can fly out.
We have seen several instances of trucks carrying logs, cars or other overweigh load that are improperly secured, causing severe forms of accidents.
An emerging theory of liability in truck accidents is broker liability. A broker functions as a middle man between the company and the shipping company. Ultimately, the broker would be held liable under the similar theories of negligent hiring or agent liability if they failed to adequately screen the truck driver.
Truck Defect or Negligent Repair or Inspection
Sometimes, truck accidents are not caused by the driver, but rather because the truck is inherently defective or due to a mechanical defect. In these situations, the actual manufacturer of the truck, or the company in charge of the maintenance or repair of the truck would be held liable. Common defects include defective tires, brakes or failure to maintain a truck within federal regulation
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accident claims can be complex, and the damages that result from the accident are often very high. Sometimes, more than one company are included to make sure that the victim or victims are compensated. Please contact our truck accident attorneys for more information.