Truck accidents are an epidemic cause of injury, death and financial damage on our roadways. Over 100,000 of these incidents occur annually, and they result in millions in damages, not to mention the human cost of such accidents.
When people are hurt in accidents involving big trucks, they deserve compensation, but pursuing these kinds of cases can be very tricky, as there are other factors that come into play beyond those involved in normal car accidents. Learn what happens when a truck driver causes an accident, whether because of DUI, distracted driving or other error, and how a lawyer can help you.
Company Liability in Truck Accidents
In the majority of cases, a truck driver involved in an accident will be operating in the course of their employment. When this happens, the legal concept of respondeat superior can kick into gear. This concept holds a company responsible for the actions of their employees—in this case, the trucking company’s responsibility for the truck driver’s actions.
So long as the incident was unintentional, and occurred while the truck driver was performing their work duties, the employer can be liable for any wrongful acts they commit. However, there are certain limiting factors to respondeat superior that must be taken into account.
Employee or Contractor?
Whether or not an act is committed within the scope of work duties depends largely on whether or not the driver was, in fact, an employee. If the truck driver is an independent contractor for the company, the company cannot generally be held liable for their actions, as the employer doesn’t control, oversee or regulate the means by which contractors do their job.
Acts Outside of Employment
Likewise, if the employee was acting outside their employment scope, the company may not be held responsible. For example, if the act was deliberate, if the employee is allowed a high degree of freedom in the way they conduct themselves, or if they’re technically off the clock, the employer might not be liable for the act in question. There are a range of factors that might be considered in such a case.
Truck Driver DUI Accidents
If a truck driver is involved in an accident where DUI is a factor, the employer could be held liable for their actions if the truck driver was working at the time. Again, however, it’s important to prove the right elements in order to get the compensation you deserve. Certainly, the driver will share some degree of responsibility, but the amount of damages you can collect can vary wildly once employer liability comes into play.
Working with an Attorney
The best way to get full compensation for the injuries you suffer is to work with a qualified truck accident attorney. Your lawyer will know exactly how to break down the details of your case, confront difficult insurance companies, and hold the responsible parties accountable. If you live in the Oklahoma City region, Parrish DeVaughn can help. Give us a call today for a free, no-obligation case consult and start on the road to getting justice.