How Employer Liability Works In A Trucking Accident
Posted in Truck Accidents on May 19, 2023
Accidents involving larger commercial trucks are often devastating for those inside passenger vehicles. Commercial trucks can weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded, and they are much bigger than traditional passenger cars. It is crucial for victims to hold truck drivers and trucking companies responsible if their negligence caused the crash. Sometimes, an employer (usually a trucking company) will be responsible for the actions of their driver, but holding an employer responsible can be challenging.
Here, we want to examine how employer liability works with a trucking accident that occurs in Tennessee. This information is crucial, especially for those seeking to recover the compensation they are entitled to after a crash.
What is Vicarious Liability?
At its most simple definition, “vicarious liability” means that there is another party to be held liable for the negligent actions of a separate party over whom they have responsibility. When it comes to vicarious liability in Nashville personal injury law, this typically means that an employer gets held responsible for the negligent actions of an employee. However, vicarious or employer liability will only apply if the employee’s negligent actions occurred when they were carrying out job-related duties.
How Does Employer Liability Work in a Truck Accident Case?
We bring up vicarious liability because that is essentially what employer liability means. For a truck accident case in Tennessee, there are various reasons why an employer would assume liability for the actions of a truck driver under their auspices.
Truck drivers make mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are minor and do not cause any harm, but there are certainly times when truck drivers make major errors that lead to accidents that cause injuries and property damage. Some of the most common errors that truck drivers make that can cause an incident include:
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Operating while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Operating the vehicle while distracted
- Following others too closely
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Overloading or improperly loading cargo
- Failing to conduct daily inspections on the vehicle
- Operating beyond the allowable hours of service
This is certainly not a complete list of the ways that a truck driver could make a mistake and cause an accident. However, if the truck driver is actively carrying out job-related duties on behalf of their employer and they make a mistake while carrying out these job-related duties, the employer will likely ultimately be responsible for any injury or property damage expenses.
What About Owner Operators?
A significant portion of the trucking industry is operated by independent owner-operators. These are truck drivers who operate their own trucks independently of a company and are contracted by other companies to haul goods.
In the event an accident occurs that is caused by the careless or negligent actions of an independent owner-operator truck driver, there may not be an employer to ultimately hold responsible. Liability typically will fall squarely onto the shoulders of the owner-operator, and they will have insurance to cover these expenses.
Trucking Company Mistakes
Trucking companies may also be held responsible for their own negligent actions, entirely separate from the actions of a truck driver who causes a crash. Trucking companies have significant responsibilities when it comes to the operation of these vehicles. Some of the negligent actions that could lead to the trucking company being held responsible include:
- Failing to adequately train new truck drivers
- Failing to conduct background checks on new drivers
- Not following up on complaints against a driver
- Encouraging a driver to overload the vehicle or drive beyond their hours of service
- Failing to regularly inspect and maintain their vehicles, per federal requirements
These are just a few of the ways that a trucking company could hold responsibility for a crash that occurs on Tennessee roadways. These actions are separate from truck driver negligence, but they could also be intertwined with the negligent actions of the truck driver. Sometimes, a truck driver and a trucking company are equally responsible.
Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer in Tennessee?
We strongly encourage any person who has been harmed or sustained property damage as a result of a negligent truck driver or trucking company to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. Truck accident claims are incredibly complex, and they require an extensive investigation. An attorney can use their resources to investigate the incident and work with trusted accident reconstruction experts to help determine liability.
However, an attorney will do much more than investigate the incident. Your Nashville truck accident lawyer will help ensure you are evaluated by trusted medical professionals who can examine your injuries and help offer a prognosis for your recovery process. There will be economic experts who can help adequately calculate total economic and non-economic damages, and your lawyer will use all of this information to negotiate with the insurance carriers.
If necessary, an attorney can file a personal injury claim against the truck driver or trucking company in civil court and take your case all the way to a jury.
What Compensation is Available if a Truck Company is Negligent?
In the event a trucking company is held responsible either for the actions of a driver or their own actions, there may be various types of compensation available for a truck accident victim. This compensation should include both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages revolve around calculable expenses that a Tennessee truck accident victim will likely endure. By obtaining receipts and bills, your attorney can adequately calculate all medical bills related to the incident, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, property damage expenses, rental vehicle costs, and more.
Non-economic damages are equally as important, but they revolve around more immeasurable expenses that may not have receipts or bills that can be rounded up and calculated. These types of damages are meant to provide compensation to a victim for their physical, emotional, and psychological pain and suffering, as well as their loss of enjoyment of life caused by the incident and any disability.