Trucking accidents have various complexities many times due to the fact that multiple parties may bear responsibility for these crashes. In the majority of cases, the truck driver bears a certain amount of liability for the accident. Sometimes the driver operates the truck in a reckless manner, or drives too fast for road conditions, or drives longer hours than allowed by federal law. In other cases, the truck driver may simply not pay attention to the roadway and surrounding vehicles properly, or he or she may drive while distracted.
Who is liable if an unqualified driver causes a crash?
A company that hires an unqualified driver or driver that would not pass a background check can be found to be negligent. Companies, including trucking companies, owe a duty of care to the general public. This involves the obligation to exercise a certain level of caution and prudence as would be expected of any ordinary individual. Checking to make sure that drivers qualified and passes a background check is exercising appropriate caution and prudence.
At the same time, the unqualified driver may also bear liability for the accident through his or her negligence based on the same duty of care standards. Truck drivers are responsible for following all laws and regulations and if they failed to do so they may be deemed to have breached the ordinary standard of care.
What happens if the driver is a contractor?
Trucking companies once avoided liability by leasing their tractors and trailers and designating their drivers as independent contractors. They would invade liability by claiming the driver was not an employee of the company.
However, this practice has been largely ended through federal laws and regulations. Currently, in truck accident cases – due to the employee/employer relationship between the trucker in the trucking company – the company may still bear liability for a truck accident.
Truck accidents often need to be thoroughly investigated so that the causes can be determined. Once the causes are determined and the evidence has been presented, negligent parties have to pay damages to injured parties.
At Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP, our New Jersey truck accident attorneys understand the perils that drivers face on the highways when sharing the same space as commercial trucks. An accident with a large commercial rig can cause severe injuries that are potentially life-changing. If you or someone you love has incurred serious injuries in a truck accident due to the fault of the truck driver, trucking company, or other party, we are here to help. To set up a free case review at one of our offices in Toms River, Edison, or Read Bank, call us today at 732.777.0100, or complete our contact form.