When Is The Trucking Company Responsible For A Truck Crash?
When you are injured in an 18-wheeler crash, you need help paying your medical costs and other expenses caused by the crash. Insurance is the primary source of funds to cover these costs. Under Texas law, motorists are required to maintain liability insurance to ensure motorists can collect damages for their injuries. Like motorists, commercial trucking companies are required to carry liability insurance to cover the cost of damages caused in accidents involving their drivers and their trucks. The standard minimum coverage limit for commercial operators is $750,000. This is significantly greater than the standard minimum coverage required for standard passenger vehicles.
Under Texas law, a trucking company’s insurance company must pay the costs associated with an accident when the trucking company is held directly liable or vicariously liable for the crash. A trucking company is held directly liable for a crash when the actions of the company caused or contributed to the cause of the crash. This can happen when trucking companies send out untrained drivers on public roadways or provide drivers with trucks that have not been properly repaired or maintained, among others.
Alternatively, a trucking company that is not directly responsible for a truck accident may nevertheless be held vicariously liable for the crash under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer is financially liable for the wrongful conduct of its employees that occurs during the course and scope of their employment. For an action to fall within the course and scope of employment, it must be “an activity of any kind or character that has to do with and originates in the work, business, trade, or profession of the employer and that is performed by an employee while engaged in or about the furtherance of the affairs or business of the employer.”
When you are injured in a truck accident, our trained truck accident attorneys will determine if the accident occurred while the driver was acting in the course and scope of employment or if there were actions taken by the trucking company that directly caused or contributed to the cause of the crash. Our job is to hold the trucking company responsible and ensure you can access the full insurance limits available in the case.
Can A Trucking Company Be Held Vicariously Liable For The Actions Of An Independent Contractor?
Under the law of respondeat superior, an employer is generally not vicariously liable for the actions of an independent contractor. Because of this, many trucking companies do not hire direct employees. Instead, they hire owner-operators and contract with them to haul their loads. This creates a problem when the contracted driver causes a crash and does not have enough insurance to cover the cost of damages suffered by the injured motorists.
However, the federal government has put a stop to this practice through the statutory employer doctrine. Under the statutory employer doctrine, a trucking company is responsible for the actions of an independent contractor hired to work on behalf of the company, closing a trucking company’s ability to shield its businesses from liability at the expense of the motoring public.
As trained truck accident attorneys, we know how to prove that an independent contractor is a statutory employee and subject the trucking company to liability. This allows you access to the trucking company’s insurance policy and a better chance to recover all compensation you are owed under the law.
Can A Trucking Company Be Held Responsible For Injuries To Its Own Drivers?
Company drivers injured in trucking accidents often approach our firm wondering if they can recover damages from their employer. Under Texas law, worker’s compensation is the exclusive remedy for employees seeking compensation for work-related injuries. This means that most work-related injuries, including truck drivers injured in an accident, cannot bring a personal injury claim against their employer to recover damages.
However, Texas law does recognize an exception to the exclusive remedy provision of worker’s compensation when the injury is caused by an intentional tort of the employer. To meet this exception, the employee must show that the employer believed that its actions were substantially certain to result in the injury suffered by the injured employee. This is a very high bar to meet.
However, injured truck drivers may have other liable defendants depending on the cause of the crash. For instance, if a third-party repair or maintenance company was responsible for maintaining the truck but failed to do so, and that failure led to a crash, the third-party company may be responsible. Likewise, if the accident was caused by a defect in the truck or a component part, the manufacturer of the truck or component part may be responsible.
Truck drivers injured in a trucking accident should consult our trained truck accident attorneys to determine if there is a right to recovery.
Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one were injured in a semi-truck accident, contact our lawyers at the Ammons Law Firm today. Our truck accident lawyers have over a century of experience handling truck accident claims. Our truck accident lawyers will help you in your time of need and show you the compassion and respect you deserve. With our help, you will secure the financial recovery you need to move forward.