Can You Hold a Trucking Company Responsible for your Truck Accident Injuries?
Can You Hold a Trucking Company Responsible for your Truck Accident Injuries?

Truck accidents are notoriously dangerous kind of crashes. In 2016, 4,440 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes. There were also roughly 119,000 crashes involving large trucks that resulted in injuries that same year.

If you are injured in a crash involving a semi-truck, who is liable for your injuries? If the crash is the fault of the truck driver, the driver can certainly be a liable party, and you can make a claim against the driver’s insurance company. But what about the trucking company? Under certain circumstances, the trucking company could also be found liable for injuries sustained in a crash with one of its drivers.

Are Truck Drivers Employees?

Because most truck drivers operate as independent contractors, they are not generally considered true employees of the trucking company. However, that does not mean the trucking company they are operating under cannot be liable for injuries caused by their drivers. Trucking companies are held to the strict standards of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). Violations of any provisions required by the FMCSR can be grounds for trucking company liability.

Violating Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations

Here are some common violations that can result in the trucking company being held liable for the crash:

  1. Negligent hiring. The FMCSR requires that trucking companies follow strict criteria for hiring drivers. These drivers must hold a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL), and they must pass road tests to prove their ability to operate the vehicle. Trucking companies are required to check the driver’s employment history and driving record for the previous three years, to ensure they have a clean driving record. If the trucking company failed to follow the standards for hiring the driver, they may be liable for negligent hiring.
  2. Failure to conduct safety reviews. Regulations stipulate that trucking companies must review the safety record of every driver annually. This includes the driver’s personal driving record, not just their truck driving record. For instance, a driver could have a traffic violation on their regular driver’s license, and a trucking company would not know this unless they were conducting thorough checks on the driver. The company must ensure their drivers are not exceeding the maximum hours drivers are allowed to be behind the wheel. Those limits are also set by the FMCSR, and violations can lead to a negligence claim in the event of an accident.
  3. Failure to maintain equipment. The upkeep and repair of the vehicles is the responsibility of the trucking company. If the trucking company’s failure to inspect its vehicle and/or perform necessary repairs, the company may be liable for a crash involving the vehicle.
  4. Failure to conduct drug and alcohol testing. Truck accidents can occur when a truck driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The FMCSR requires that trucking companies perform drug and alcohol testing prior to hiring a driver, or following an incident where drug or alcohol use by the driver was suspected. Trucking companies are also required to randomly test a percentage of their drivers for drugs and alcohol. Failure to comply with this mandatory testing could result in the trucking company being held liable for an accident where the truck driver was under the influence.

When Truck Drivers are Employees

If a truck driver is actually an employee of a trucking company, as opposed to an independent contractor, the trucking company may be “vicariously liable” for the damages. In order to prove this liability, the plaintiff would need to prove that the employee caused the accident while within the scope of their employment.

“Establishing liability for trucking accidents can be quite complicated. Because the damages from these accidents are often extensive, it is important to work with an experienced truck accident attorney who can help you secure the compensation you deserve,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark legal Group.

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured in a truck accident and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, El Centro, and Yucca Valley, and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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