Who Could be Liable for a Truck Accident

who is liable in truck accident

who is liable in truck accidentAbingdon, Bristol and Johnson City

An accident involving a commercial truck and a private vehicle is more complicated than an accident involving two privately owned vehicles. The drivers of the two cars both have titles, insurance, and registrations for the cars they are driving. They are two equal entities so that whichever driver is at fault will pay for his or her mistake by compensating the other or injured party.

Respondeat superior

Respondeat superior is a Latin phrase (as many legal terms are) which translates into “let the superior make answer.” It is the rule of law by which accidents involving commercial trucks and private cars are decided. It more or less transfers responsibility to the employer of the driver, as though the employer had committed the wrongful act instead of the employee/driver. Another reason it is a rule involving commercial vehicles is that employers assume there will be certain costs of doing business and have deeper pockets to defray driving the expense of driving mishaps.

Within the scope of employment

If an employee has an accident on his delivery route, then clearly this is within the scope of employment. If, however, he gets into an accident en route to a basketball game, this would hardly be within the scope of employment for an auto parts employer.

Each state has its own particular laws about employer liability, but some common criteria include:

  • The objective of the employee
  • The time, place and detail of the employee’s conduct
  • The employer’s type of business
  • The extra things the employer should be able to expect of the employee
  • The amount of leeway the employee has to do his/her job amount; the amount of personal time the employee is allowed.

In other words, if the employee is backing a company vehicle out of the driveway of his girlfriend’s apartment at 3 am and hits another vehicle—the employer could make a case that this activity has very little to do with his job.

So Drivers of Commercial Vehicles are in the Clear?

Actually, the better question would be when is an employee not an employee? The answer is when he is an independent contractor.  What exactly is that? An employee is told what to do; how to do it, and how long to do it. He has taxes taken out of his pay, and his employer pays for his gas and his insurance and takes taxes from his pay. An independent contractor is given the job, but how to accomplish that job it is left up to him. He pays for his own gas and insurance and is usually paid by the job, not by the hour. The independent contractor receives no benefits and has no taxes taken out of his pay. An employer is not liable for the acts of an independent contractor.

Trucking Accident Attorney in Tri-Cities

It is imperative to know whom the law considers the responsible party in an accident with a commercial vehicle. This is something that experienced Tri-Cities personal injury attorney Michael R. Munsey knows how to do. If you have any questions, contact us at (276) 451-2056.

The Law Offices of Michael R. Munsey, PC, are proud to serve the citizens of Kingsport, Johnson City, and Bristol, TN as well as Bristol, VA.