Part 5: Whose Fault Are Truck Accidents? Employee vs. Independent Contractor

Photo of an overturned tractor trailorFor the final chapter in our truck accident liability series, we are going to explain how the classification of truck drivers as independent contractors can throw a wrench into your plans to sue for your injuries.

When a truck driver is an employee with a truck company, people injured in truck accidents can sue the trucking company for damages if the accident was not intentional and the driver was within the scope of employment. This is due to a legal doctrine called “respondeat superior,” which we’ve touched on in a few of our recent blogs (Latin for “let the superior make answer.”) But sometimes, truck companies classify their drivers as independent contractors instead of employees. This is done for a few reasons, such as skirting federal employment laws, preventing workers from unionizing and minimizing the company’s liability for the negligent actions of its workers.

It is possible to bring a claim against the negligent driver, although often drivers have much less capital to award you in damages compared to truck companies. This does not mean you cannot sue the truck company, though, even if the driver is classified as an independent contractor.

Seeking Damages from the Company

If the company committed negligence in any way and this contributed to your accident, you can still seek damages from the company. If the truck company failed to perform detailed background checks, for example, or failed to provide adequate training or have used faulty hiring practices, the truck company can be liable. In determining liability, you want to look at every single possible party who may share the blame. That’s one reason why you need to seek the services of a truck accident attorney.



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