Determining Liability for a Truck Accident: The Driver vs. The Company

There are over three thousand fatalities each year from truck accidents, and many more sustain serious injury in commercial truck wrecks, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. When you or your loved one has been seriously injured in a truck accident, one of your initial legal concerns will be to determine who can be held liable: the truck driver or the trucking company?

Truck Companies and the “Doctrine of Respondeat Superior”

The doctrine of respondeat superior is a common-law practice, which essentially says that an employer is generally responsible for employee actions as long as the employees were acting within the scope of their employment. Without all the legal jargon, what this means is that in most cases, truck accident victims can hold the trucking company liable for an accident for which their employee was at fault.

Why can victims hold the company liable when it was the driver’s fault? Well, it makes sense: in DiCosala v. Kay, the New Jersey Supreme Court noted: “[T]he doctrine of respondeat superior is based on the theory that the employee is the agent or is acting for the employer.”

In other words, because the driver is representing the company, it’s the company that can usually be held liable. The Farlex Legal Dictionary clearly reiterates: “An employer is liable for harm done by the employee within the scope of employment, whether the act was accidental or reckless.”

Factors that Can Affect Liability

Determining if the driver or the company is responsible for a truck accident doesn’t necessarily have a lot do with whether the cause was related to negligence or to recklessness; rather it rests heavily on whether the accident occurred while the driver was acting in his or her scope of employment.

When determining whether or not the driver was acting in the scope of the job, the courts may take the following factors into consideration:

  • the driver’s job description;
  • the assigned duties;
  • the time, place, and purpose of the driver’s actions; and
  • whether or not the driver’s actions could reasonably have been expected.

Holding the Trucking Company Liable for Injuries

The fact that injured truck accidents victims can usually hold the companies liable may allow the victim to recover fair damages. Large companies are far more likely to have funds to pay the settlement than truck drivers.

The first step to pursuing compensation is to speak to a local accident attorney. Your attorney will look over the facts of your accident and make sure that all liability requirements are satisfied. Then, you and your lawyer can work together to compile evidence, carefully document all damages, and present a case that supports your claim for restitution.

Truck Accident Attorney D.J. Banovitz Can Help

For trusted legal counsel in Denver, call accident lawyer D.J. Banovitz. He regularly deals with truck accident liability cases, and knows how to seek maximum compensation for his clients. Contact our office (which serves Denver and surrounding areas like Aurora and Arvada) at 303-300-5060 today for a free consultation.

D.J. Banovitz’ career has always concentrated on trial practice and he has litigated hundreds of cases. His passion and sole career focus has been to seek justice for people suffering from personal injuries as the result of someone else’s negligence. The hallmark of the Law Office of D.J. Banovitz, is the total commitment to professionalism, quality, and personalized care of your injury case. D.J. has dedicated his professional life to helping those most in need and is a proud and active member of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. His experience includes volunteering for Colorado Rural Legal Services in Montrose, the Colorado Aids Project, consumer law, family law, criminal defense, and Alternative Defense Counsel for juveniles in Denver.