Responsibility in Trucking Accidents

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FAQ: Are Both the Truck Driver and the Trucking Company Responsible after an Accident Causing Injury?

Following a large truck accident that leaves you with serious injuries, there is nothing more important than identifying the at-fault party and initiating your claim for damages. However, it can be difficult to know against whom you should file your claim – the truck driver, or the trucking company? At the law office of El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers, our car accident lawyer in Los Angeles will handle all elements of your case for you, including understanding truck driver vs. trucking company liability in a commercial truck accident.

Trucking Company Liability: When an Employer Is Responsible for the Actions of Its Employee

In numerous truck accident claims where the truck accident was caused by the error or fault of the truck driver, the trucking company that employees the truck driver will be liable; the truck driver will not be held personally liable for their actions. This is based on the legal theory of respondeat superior, or “let the master answer.” Essentially, the theory holds that employers are to be held liable for the actions of their employees when those actions were unintentional and committed within the scope of employment. For example, if a truck driver was on the clock and made a mistake–such as taking a turn too quickly–that led to an accident, but that mistake was unintentional, then the trucking company will likely be held liable for the damages.

There are, of course, other situations in which the truck accident is not caused by the actions of the truck driver, but is instead purely the fault of the trucking company. For example, a trucking company’s failure to properly service its trucks may result in a vehicle error or breakdown that would not have occurred otherwise.

When the Truck Driver May Be Held Liable…

Of course, there are some situations in which a trucking company does not assume liability for a driver’s actions. If a truck driver’s negligence or intentional or reckless conduct caused a truck accident, the truck driver may be found personally liable if:

  • The actions did not occur during the course of employment (i.e. the truck driver was “off the clock”);
  • The truck driver is not an employee of the trucking company, but is instead an independent contractor; or
  • The truck driver’s negligence was intentional – i.e. the truck driver intentionally ran a red light in an attempt to cause an accident.

Keep in mind that even if an employer can prove that the truck driver was not acting within the scope of employment or was not an actual employee of the trucking company, an attorney may counter by holding that regardless of these facts, the trucking company entrusted the vehicle to the truck driver, who was clearly negligent. This is known as the theory of negligent entrustment. If the truck driver was an employee, then the trucking company could be held liable based on its negligent hiring or supervision of the driver.

Call Our Los Angeles Truck Accident Team Today

When you work with El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers, you’ll have a team on your side committed to proving fault and working hard to get you your maximum compensation award. Please call our law office today for your free consultation.

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