It can be difficult to determine liability in a commercial truck accident, even when the trucker is at fault. Being that the driver is an employee of a trucking company, there are many instances when the trucker is not personally liable for damages. Here are some basic things to put into consideration when determining liability in a commercial truck accident.
When is a Company Liable For Employee Conduct?
The theory that transfers liability of a trucking accident from the driver to their employer is known as “respondeat superior.” This is a Latin phrase meaning “let the superior make answer.” According to this principle, employers are liable for the wrong acts performed by their agents or employees, provided they committed the acts by mistake. Additionally, this principle only applies if the employee commits wrongful acts in the course of executing tasks that fall within their job duties. Respondeat superior virtually makes the employer responsible as though they had committed the act themselves.
The policy guiding this principle is the realization that certain wrongful acts are bound to happen in the course of an employer’s business. Therefore, the losses that come as a result of employee conduct are rightfully transferred to the company as a cost of running the business. Another reason for respondeat superior is that organizations are generally better equipped than workers to afford damages of a car accident. They have the option of purchasing insurance to cover employee accidents.
Distinguishing Between An Employee and Independent Contractor
Before one can invoke respondeat superior, the injured person needs to prove that the driver of the truck works for the company in question and is not an independent contractor. This is because organizations are not held liable for the wrongful acts of independent contractors.
When determining whether a person is an employee or independent contractor, the courts will question whether the employer had control over the manner and means by which an employee executed a task. If the employer has control over the result of a task but not over how the employee accomplishes it, then the person is an independent contractor.
What Acts Are Considered Within The Scope of Employment?
The courts have a criterion for determining acts that fall within the scope of employment. The common factors include:
- The intention of the employee
- The employee’s job description
- The time, place, and nature of the employee’s conduct
- The freedom given to the employee in executing their duties
- Incidental acts employers should expect employees to do
- The time taken to perform an activity
It is most important to determine liability when pursuing compensation in a commercial truck accident. Truck Wreck Lawyers can get you in touch with an experienced commercial truck accident attorney who can help you seek maximum compensation for your damages. Don’t wait for bills to pile to seek legal counsel. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.