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Are Trucking Companies Responsible for Accidents?

Truck crashes are devastating and often fatal, which is why it’s crucial that those who contributed to the accident are held responsible, no matter who they are. What most drivers don’t realize is that there are circumstances where the trucking company can hold liability for causing the crash. But when and how do these situations occur? Let’s find out.

Vicarious Liability

In the United States, we have a concept called “vicarious liability.” This means that a supervising party (an employer, in this case) can hold liability for their employees’ actions or negligence. This goes back to an ancient Latin term, Respondeat Superior, meaning, “the master answers.”

However, that doesn’t mean the trucking company is responsible for every crash involving one of its employees. Certain criteria must be met for vicarious liability to apply.

When Does It Apply?

In a truck accident, vicarious liability may apply when the trucking company’s negligence significantly contributes to the crash. Most often, these claims come down to negligent maintenance.

The majority of truck drivers do not own their rigs and instead rely on their employer to maintain their vehicles, ensure the tires are wearing evenly, that the brakes are in good condition, etc. For that reason, if a crash were caused by maintenance issues, like failed brakes, the employer would likely hold liability since they own the truck and their negligence contributed to the crash.

In other cases, the trucking company could be a contributing factor, but not a direct cause. For example, if a truck driver’s supervisor advised them to continue driving in spite of unsafe weather or hours of service limits, they might hold some degree of liability if the truck driver were to get into a crash.

That said, determining exactly when vicarious liability applies can be extremely difficult, which is why investigating a truck accident and negotiating with the insurance companies is best left to an experienced truck accident attorney.

If you or someone you love suffered severe injuries in a truck crash, we are here for you. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Columbus truck accident lawyer from Ross, Midian & Breitmayer, LLC, please don’t hesitate to call (614) 450-2223 or send us an email.