Who Is Responsible in a Commercial Trucking Accident?
If you are injured in a collision with a commercial truck such as a tractor trailer or a delivery van, you might not know who may be held liable for the damages. Whether the driver or his or her employer is responsible for the damages you suffer depends on the following factors:
- Whether the driver is an independent contractor or an employee of his or her company;
- Whether the collision occurred within the scope of the driver’s employment; and/or
- Whether the driver’s actions were intentional or not.
According to the United States Department of Transportation, appropriately 500,000 trucking accidents occur on United States highways every year. Of these, about five thousand result in fatalities. If you have been injured in a collision with any type of commercial vehicle, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options for seeking monetary compensation to cover your expenses.
Is the Driver an Independent Contractor or an Employee?
Whether the driver involved in the accident that caused your injury was an independent contractor or an employee of his or her company plays a role in determining who is responsible for the damages.
Generally, a company is liable for any traffic accidents that its drivers cause. This principle is known as “respondeat superior,” which means “let the superior make answer.” Basically, this means that if the driver involved in your accident was a regular employee of his or her company, the company is liable for the damages you suffered.
Companies that contract independent truck drivers are not responsible for these drivers’ actions in most cases. An independent truck driver is any driver who owns his or her own vehicle, pays for all fuel and repairs for the vehicle, and holds his or her own insurance policy for the vehicle.
Scope of Employment
If the driver was an employee, his or her employer might still not be liable if it can be determined that the driver was acting outside his or her scope of employment when the accident occurred. To determine whether or not the action occurred within the scope of the driver’s employment, the following must be considered:
- The amount of freedom the driver has during his or her shifts;
- The employee’s intent;
- The time, place, and nature of the employee’s actions at the time of the collision;
- The type of work the employee was hired to perform; and
- Whether or not the driver was performing any incidental actions that would reasonably be performed along with the job when the collision occurred.
Trucking Accident Attorneys in Winter Park
If you have been injured in a collision with a commercial truck or other vehicle, contact Hornsby Law Group at 407-499-8887 today to discuss your case and circumstances with one of the attorneys at our firm. Be proactive and make this call as soon as you can after you receive medical attention for your injury – in Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is four years following your accident. After four years, you may no longer file a claim and seek monetary compensation.