After a truck accident, you may be able to sue both the driver and the trucking company. However, it depends on the particular facts of your crash. Depending on who caused the accident, there are many potential parties that you may sue, including the driver and the trucking company. In general, it is wise to pursue a claim against multiple defendants when applicable, as they may share liability.
When is the Truck Driver Liable?
Just like drivers of regular passenger vehicles, truck drivers make mistakes and cause accidents. For example, they may speed, run a red light, make an unsafe lane change, drive while under the influence, or follow too closely. If a truck driver’s negligence caused your crash, then you can sue the driver directly.
When You Can Sue the Trucking Company
However, a trucking company often has much greater financial resources. Therefore, to maximize your financial compensation for your injuries, it might be a good idea to sue the employer as well– when applicable. To determine whether or not the trucking company may be liable for your crash, the following factors need to be considered:
- The driver is likely to be considered an independent contractor if the following is true. They used their own truck, handled all repairs, were compensated per route, and taxes were not withheld from their payment. If so, the trucking company would not be liable.
- If the driver was an employee, did the accident take place within the scope of their employment? For example, if the driver kept the truck after hours and was street-racing late at night, that would fall outside the scope of employment, and the company would not be liable. But, on the other hand, if the driver was on-duty and crashed into your vehicle while en route, then that would undoubtedly fall under the scope of employment.
- Was the truck properly maintained? The trucking company has to ensure that the truck is safe for usage on public roads. If your crash was caused by faulty maintenance, then the employer could be liable.
- Was the driver properly trained and vetted following a background check? If, for example, the driver wasn’t trained to operate a large truck before they side-swiped your vehicle, the trucking company would be liable. Similarly, suppose the driver had a checkered driving record that included multiple DUI’s and was intoxicated at the time of your crash, then the company would be liable.
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the hours a driver may drive. For example, it says that individuals may drive a maximum of 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Further, they may not drive past the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, and they may not drive more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. If a driver violates any of these rules and causes an accident, the trucking company may be liable.
Where Do I Go from Here?
There are several potential defendants in a truck accident case, and it can be challenging to determine which entities potentially caused your injuries. For that reason, our attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. strongly suggest that you consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer to gain an understanding of which defendants may be liable in your particular case.
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Since 1975, our car accident lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. have been serving as tireless advocates for innocent victims here in New York. We pride ourselves on being big enough to do it all, and small enough to care about each client.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, call Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. today to schedule a free case review with an experienced car accident attorney. We do not charge any fees unless you win your case.