Trucking Accidents and Corporate Liability

Because of the sheer size and mass of commercial trucks, accidents involving these vehicles can be extremely destructive and leave people with severe injuries and enormous costs. If the accident is the result of the truck driver’s actions, then other injured people would be entitled to collect compensation for their injuries. One issue that complicates these matters is determining who is actually on the hook for the truck driver’s negligence? Is it the trucker as an individual? Or, is it the company that employs the driver?  In most cases, injured people would rather file a lawsuit against a driver’s company because there is a greater chance of recovering a higher damages award as opposed to simply going after the individual truck driver. However, it is not always clear who is going to be liable.

Respondeat superior

Under the legal concept of respondeat superior, an employer is responsible for the actions taken by their employees. If respondeat superior applies in a case, the company is just as liable for the injuries caused by the truck accident as if it was behind the wheel. There are limitations on this liability though. For one thing, the actions must have taken place in the course of the employee’s work for the company. If the trucker was working, hauling goods for the company at the time of the accident, then the accident occurred in the course of his or her employment. However, if the truck driver was on his or her way to a movie at the time, then the employer might not be responsible for the employee’s actions. Additionally, only unintentional conduct usually counts. If the truck driver committed an intentional tort, the company would not be liable.

The biggest question in determining if respondeat superior applies though, is whether or not the truck driver was an employee.

When is a trucker an employee?

State laws differ on how to determine whether a person is an independent contractor or an employee. In Mississippi, there are several factors considered, including:

  • Level of control over the details of the work
  • Whether the employer person is in a distinct occupation or business
  • The required skill of the occupation
  • If tools and a place of work are supplied by the employer
  • How much time the person is employed for
  • How the person is paid (based on time or per job)
  • Whether the work performed is a normal part of the employer’s business

Determining who is responsible for damages caused in a truck accident can be complicated, but is an extremely important part of a claim for compensation.

Because of the serious damage caused by many trucking accidents, it is vital for individuals involved in these accidents to have their claims evaluated by experienced personal injury attorneys. If you were hurt in an accident with a truck, contact an attorney to discuss your claim, and to determine the best way to pursue compensation for your injuries.  Contact the seasoned Mississippi Trucking Accident Lawyer today at (800) 707-9577 to learn more about your legal rights and options.


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