Q: Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident: Carrier or Driver?
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident, you might be wondering whether the truck driver or the truck carrier is liable for your injuries and damages. In most cases, if the driver is negligent, the company will be liable for the driver's negligent actions.
At the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz P.C., we can help you establish that the truck driver’s negligence caused your accident and resulting injuries and that the trucking company is also liable for its employee’s negligent actions. If we successfully establish liability, causation, and damages, you may recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other accident-related costs. Call us today at 404-474-0804.
Establishing Truck Driver Negligence
Truck drivers must follow the rules of the road that passenger vehicles follow, as well as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s truck driving regulations. If a driver fails to follow these rules, they will have breached their duty to other motorists on the road. This breach of duty constitutes negligence.
Our attorneys can establish that a truck driver is liable for your injuries and damages if we can show that their negligence caused your injuries. To prove our claim, we may present the following evidence:
- Logbooks and delivery records – The FMCSA requires drivers to keep records of their hours on the road to ensure that they do not drive too many consecutive hours on the road. However, some drivers will falsify their records to drive for longer hours and make their deliveries quicker. Delivery receipts and log records can show that driver drove too many consecutive hours and was therefore “fatigued” at the time of the accident. Driver fatigue is a form of negligence.
- Videos, photos, and records – In-truck cameras and data recorders and other data from onboard systems can show that a truck driver engaged in distracted driving, speeding or other negligent behaviors at the time of the accident. Photos of the scene of the crash, videos of the crash and cell phone records can also provide evidence of negligence.
- Driver records – Truck drivers must have the appropriate qualifications, licenses, and training to operate their trucks. The driver’s file may indicate if the driver lacked the appropriate training or licensure to drive the truck.
- Vehicle inspection and maintenance records – Vehicles must undergo inspections and regular maintenance to ensure they continue to meet federal standards. Failure to conduct these inspections may result in failed brakes, tire blowouts and other defects that cause accidents.
- Loading records – Load and cargo evidence may indicate an overloaded truck.Overloading a truck may result in brake failure.
- Witnesses and experts – Eyewitness testimony from people who saw the accident may testify as to what happened at the time of the crash. Medical experts, accident reconstructionists, and other experts can testify regarding the mechanics of the accident, the nature and severity of your injuries, necessary medical treatments, what caused the accident and other important parts of the case.
By proving negligence, causation, and damages, we can show that the driver is liable for your accident-related injuries and damages.
Proving Truck Carrier Negligence
Proving truck carrier negligence is different from proving truck driver negligence. If a company is cutting corners, they should be liable for victim’s injuries. Truck carriers may be liable for:
- Hiring incompetent or unqualified drivers
- Failing to provide training for drivers or supervisors
- Failing to conduct proper vehicle inspections and maintenance
- The negligent actions of their drivers
But even if the truck carrier was not directly negligent, it may be vicariously liable for your injuries if the truck driver caused the accident. Under the theory of respondeat superior, the truck carrier may be vicariously liable for the negligent actions of the truck driver (e.g., speeding, failing to yield, distracted driving). Respondeat superior protects the victim and holds companies responsible for the actions of their employees.To establish liability of a truck carrier under this theory, we must show:
- The truck carrier employed the truck driver – The law does not consider independent contractors and truck drivers who work for third-party companies as employees of the truck carrier. In many cases, truck carriers will contract with a third-party company and use their trucks and employees for their deliveries. If this is the case, truck accident victims may file claims against the third-party or contracting company instead of the truck carrier.
- The truck driver was driving within the scope of employment – If a truck driver was conducting business to benefit the trucking company at the time of the accident, and their actions were within the scope of their employment, the trucking company may be liable for damages. If an employee was running a personal errand with the truck and got into an accident, the truck carrier will not be liable for the crash. Courts will consider many factors, including the driver’s general job description, to determine whether the driver was acting within the scope of employment.
Both truck carriers and truck drivers - and other parties - may be liable for truck accident victims’ damages and injuries. The attorneys at the Law Office of Jason R.Schultz P.C. could assist you with your claim against both parties. Call 404-474-0804 to set up a consultation with an attorney.