Who Is Liable After A Truck Accident?
Accidents involving large trucks can be devastating, both in terms of property damage and physical and emotional injuries. However, depending on the type of accident you experience, it can be difficult to determine who should be held liable for your injuries. It is generally a good idea that you seek out an experienced truck attorney while you recover; they can help you get through what can be a complex legal process.
Possibly More Than One Defendant
The large majority of trucking accidents happen while the truck driver is on the job, usually hauling a load of cargo. Normally, if you are seriously injured in an automobile accident, you may be able to file suit against the other driver to seek compensation for your medical bills. However, most truck drivers are what is referred to as ‘judgment proof’ – that is, they do not have the assets that would be necessary to compensate you fairly for the harm you have suffered. One might think this makes filing suit a waste of time, but the truck driver is (very often) not the only possible defendant in your case.
If the truck driver can be shown to have been acting within the scope of their employment – that is, if they were on the job at the time of the accident – the trucking company may then be held liable along with its driver, because in theory, the company allowed the driver to be out on the road in their name. This theory is known as respondeat superior, also called vicarious liability, and if it applies in your case, it allows you to try and hold the trucking company liable, with its much larger asset base than its driver.
Be Aware Of The Details
While the majority of truck drivers are considered employees of a corporation, it is possible to encounter an independent contractor, especially if they are doing work for a smaller company. If the truck driver is an independent contractor, they are not subject to respondeat superior because they are, at least in theory, working for themselves. It can be difficult to determine whether a driver is an employee or an independent contractor; Florida law does specify several factors that a court can consider in making that decision, but it is not always easy to do so.
If a truck driver is an employee, and you are able to file suit against both them and their employer, you may still be held liable for part of your injuries even if you prevail at trial. Thankfully, Florida law holds that even if you are held partially liable, you may recover the amount, minus your portion of fault, from the defendant(s). For example, if you are held to have been 30 percent liable for your own injuries, you may still recover 70 percent from the defendants, barring any unforeseen factors.
Contact A Winter Park Trucking Accident Attorney
After an accident involving a large truck, recovery is almost certainly going to be your main priority. However, this does not mean that you should ignore the possibility of getting your medical bills paid by the person who had a role in causing them. The Winter Park truck accident lawyers at the Hornsby Law Group are ready and willing to try and help you. Call our office for a free consultation.