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Commercial Truck Accidents: Company and Driver Liability

Trucking Accident? Let Us Evaluate Your Case!

When an accident involves a commercial truck, the question of liability is not answered immediately. While you may assume the driver and the trucking company may both be liable, that is not always the case. Depending upon the circumstances, the employment relationship between the driver and the company, and other factors, the case can become quite complex. Nevertheless, you as the victim are still entitled to be compensated for the negligence and carelessness of whomever is ultimately deemed to be liable for your injuries. To make sure you receive the maximum amount of compensation you deserve, retain the services of a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer.

Holding the Company Liable

In legal terms, a trucking company may be liable for the accident when the driver was an actual employee of the company, the accident occurred while the driver was in the course of regular employment duties, and the acts committed resulting in the accident were unintentional. However, don’t expect the company to readily accept responsibility for the accident. Since the company may use various tactics to delay the inevitable, prepare to be patient and hire a specialized lawyer to handle your case.

Independent Contractor or Company Employee?

While you may not think the answer to this question will greatly impact your personal injury lawsuit, it may in fact determine if the company can be liable for the accident. If the driver was a company employee, there may not be any question at all. However, if the driver was an independent contractor who used their own truck and received no benefits from the company, the driver fits the standard definition of an independent contractor, meaning the company likely will not need to assume liability. However, because companies in some instances do try to muddy the waters and make it appear as if an employee is an independent contractor, don’t take the company’s word for this. Rather, let a commercial truck accident attorney in Los Angeles examine company records to find out about the driver’s specific relationship with the company.

Additional Signs Driver was Independent Contractor

Along with using their own truck and receiving no company benefits, there are additional signs to look for that may indicate the at-fault driver was an independent contractor when the accident happened. These include if the company paid the driver a flat fee per route, if the driver bought their own gas, the driver had their own liability insurance, and if the company provided no training to the driver regarding company policies or withheld any taxes from the driver’s pay. To find out if any of these applied to the driver who caused your accident, let a lawyer handle your case.

What is the Scope of Employment?

To determine company and driver liability, your lawyer and the court will look at the details of the accident to determine if the driver was within the scope of employment when the accident happened. This can include such things as the employee’s intentions prior to the accident, what kind of work the employee was engaged in, how much leeway is given to the employee by the company while completing their duties, and other factors. Since some opinions regarding this matter can be very subjective you should have a good foundation of knowledge on your legal rights. By doing so, when you are seeking to gain compensation trucking companies will know you are determined to win your case.

Can There be Multiple Defendants?

Yes. In fact, many cases do involve filing medical-related lawsuits against multiple defendants. After the evidence is examined, they may recommend your claim not only name the driver and the company as defendants, but also the manufacturer of the tires. Only if the tires were determined to be faulty and played a major role in causing the accident. However, it is important to note that in cases where multiple defendants are named, it is more likely the case will go to trial than be settled out-of-court. As a result, the case may drag on longer than you anticipated, so always discuss this option carefully with your attorney for expert advice in these complex situations.

Did the Driver Intentionally Cause the Accident?

While it happens rarely, there are times when a truck driver will in fact intentionally cause an accident. In most cases, this occurs when the driver has a grievance against another individual. For example, if a truck driver uses their rig to crash into another vehicle driven by a person with whom they earlier had an argument, the company will most likely not be held liable for the driver’s actions and any damages that resulted from the accident. Make sure this is actually why the accident took place. Your legal representation will carefully examine all the circumstances prior to filing your claim or lawsuit.

Violating Regulations

When accidents take place that involve commercial trucks, it is almost certain that one or multiple state and federal regulations were violated along the way by the commercial driver and possibly the company. These can include such things as the driver being on the road too long without making a required rest stop to sleep, hauling cargo that exceeds the weight limit for their commercial truck, and other situations. If this is proven to have occurred, you will have an even better chance of winning your lawsuit and collecting substantial compensation.

The damages done were likely the result of the negligence of a trucking company, driver, and perhaps others as well. Make sure you get the compensation you deserve. To take the first step, discuss your case with a lawyer from Grey Law.

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