How Does Vicarious Liability Factor Into a Truck Accident Case?
If you’re like most Americans, you likely spend a lot of time behind the wheel of your car. We often forget how much risk we put ourselves in by being on the highways, where accidents are far too common and result in serious injuries or fatalities all too easily.
Accidents involving trucks are often some of the most damaging sorts that can hit our freeways. These are very large vehicles and the damage they can do in an accident is unparalleled. If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a truck, it’s important that you get the compensation that you deserve.
In order to do so, you’ll need to employ the legal concept of vicarious liability. What is vicarious liability and how does it relate to truck accidents? Read on and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.
Car Accidents & Liability
The legal aftermath of any sort of automobile accident is never fun to figure out. Damage to personal property or self has to be sorted out, and settlements have to be reached between the victims and the individual or individuals responsible for an accident.
In a normal car accident case, victims would need to prove that another driver was responsible for the accident and acted negligently. They may have been speeding, not looking when they were merging, texting and driving, or any combination of these and other reasons.
A major part of a car accident lawsuit or settlement will be proving the fault of the other driver. This is often done through different forms of evidence, like a police report from the accident and witness testimonies. It can be difficult to build such a case, and often requires the help of an experienced attorney.
When it comes to accidents involving big commercial trucks, the situation only gets more complicated. Often times, truck drivers will take actions that are considered negligent and may be at fault for these accidents. In some situations, however, it also may be the fault of the company that hired the driver.
The company may have forced the driver on an unsafe working schedule, or they may have employed an individual who does not have the proper credentials to be operating such a vehicle. The concept of vicarious liability will help a victim extend this fault not just to the driver at the scene of the accident, but the employer behind them as well.
Understanding Vicarious Liability
In most truck accident cases, the driver of the truck will be the primary person responsible for the collision of the truck and other vehicles. They may have taken many of the negligent actions that we mentioned above.
However, that doesn’t mean the company behind them can’t also be implicated in the accident. In many cases, the employer will also be responsible for the conduct of their employee. The legal liability they have for their employee is the exact term we’ve been discussing: vicarious liability.
Under the law, an employer will have legal responsibility for the actions of their employee while the employee is engaged in work-related duties. That means that as long as the truck driver was on the job, the company that hired this driver would be somewhat responsible for the damages that they caused.
In order to hold a company liable via vicarious liability, a number of legal elements must be present. The driver in question must have been working under the employer’s control and orders. The employee’s actions also must have been considered normal under the scope of employment and the expectations that would naturally rise within.
If both of these factors are true, you might be able to sue the driver’s company as well as the driver themselves for compensation for your damages. A truck accident attorney can help to determine the exact value that you should go after.
An experienced attorney will ensure that you can navigate this complicated legal situation.
Potential Roadblocks to Compensation
Trucking companies are often very large operations. These are very big businesses that have a lot of money at their disposal. That means they will have an entire team of lawyers at their disposal when you attempt to come forward and obtain the compensation you have a legal right to.
The company will most likely try to worm their way out of paying you or at least paying the full total that you truly deserve. Often a defense is used that is known as a ‘detour or frolic.’ The company will argue that their employee was taking a break from their work-related duties to perform some other personal task or errand.
It can be hard to prove whether a driver in question was actually taking a detour or not, which is why it’s such a common defense by an employee’s company. It can take the help of a very experienced attorney to dig through the case and find the facts.
If you want to go up against a company as large as these trucking companies usually are, you certainly need a strong legal aid on your side.
Accidents Involving Large Trucks
If you’ve been involved in any sort of accident with a truck, it’s important that you understand the legal concept of vicarious liability. The truck driver’s employer might be just as liable for the damage caused as the driver themselves, which can make it easier to get the full compensation you deserve.
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