Are Trucking Companies Responsible For Truck Crashes?
After a truck accident, there’s a tendency to distribute the blame to either the truck driver or the driver of the smaller vehicle. While this seems sensible, it misses one major contributing factor: the trucking company.
But how does the trucking company’s role factor into a crash and can these businesses hold liability for causing the accident? It depends on the circumstances.
In American law, there is a precedent called “respondeat superior,” which is Latin for “the master answers.” This means that an employer can sometimes hold liability for their employees’ actions, particularly when those actions occurred at the employer’s direction.
In truck accidents, this means that if the trucking company itself somehow contributed to the crash, they may hold some degree of liability for which the injured driver can pursue damages.
There are many ways the trucking company may hold liability in a crash. For example, most truck drivers do not own their vehicles and therefore are not responsible for maintaining them. It is the trucking company’s responsibility to ensure their vehicles are properly maintained. If a truck accident occurred because of failed brakes or a tire blowout, for example, the trucking company would likely hold some liability.
The same can sometimes apply if management pressures a driver to exceed their hours-of-service limits. If a driver has put in their maximum of 11-hours, but managers push them to continue driving to the point of fatigue, the company may hold some liability if a crash were to occur.
That said, these kinds of causes are rarely obvious and often require a full investigation to uncover. If you’re ever involved in a truck accident and you’re not sure who is at fault or whether the trucking company might hold liability, you should discuss your case with an experienced attorney as soon as possible!
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