When truck accidents happened due to a rollover, driver fatigue, a cargo spill, or other reasons, the driver is the primary defendant – but he or she may not be the only one. Truck accident lawyers also work to determine who else might be liable. Often, the defendant truck driver doesn’t have enough insurance to pay the damages for a valid claim. Other defendants may be in a better position to pay the damage award. So, it’s important to determine who else might be responsible.
Holding the truck company that hired the driver accountable
Truck companies are generally liable for the negligence of their employees. The difficulty in truck accident cases is determining whether the driver was an employee or an independent contractor. If the driver was just an independent contractor, then the trucking company may only be liable if it can be shown it consciously ignored specific rules or industry standards, such as not checking whether the independent driver had a current commercial driver’s license.
The court or a jury decides whether the driver was an employee or independent contractor. The judge or jury will consider many factors. Ultimately, the key factor is how much control the trucking had over the driver’s performance. Some of the decision factors include:
- Who sets the hours for works and decides the assignments?
- Does the driver wear a company uniform?
- Does the truck driver receive benefits such as health insurance?
- Whose truck is used?
- Whose equipment such as electronic logs and truck repair items are used?
While a written agreement between the driver and truck company may be instructive, the agreement is not the final say. An agreement can be overridden by the evidence about the ability to control the truck driver’s performance.
Truck companies may try to argue the driver, even if he/she was an employee, was not driving within the scope of his truck driving employment. If the truck accident happened while the driver was off-duty or on a lunch-break, the trucking company will use the scope of employment defense. Experienced lawyers work to show the truck driver’s action, if the accident happened away from the prescribed truck route, benefited the employer and that the employer controlled the driver’s lunch, off-duty activities, and other scope issues.
Other possible defendants
The following people or companies may also be liable for a Tennessee truck accident:
- Other drivers who were negligent
- The company that requested that the goods be shipped to them – because they demanded the shipment be delivered in an untimely manner or for other irresponsible reasons
- A manufacturer or seller because a truck part was defective and the defect caused the victim’s injuries
- The victim’s uninsured/underinsured car insurance carrier if the defendant’s coverage is not enough
- An entity that sold a driver alcohol while he/she was knowingly intoxicated or if the driver was under 21 – and the alcohol caused the victim’s injuries
Truck accidents are often deadlier and cause harsher injuries than car accidents. Trucking companies should always place safety before profit. Truck drivers should obey the traffic rules and truck industry safety rules. Anyone other than a driver who caused your loved one to die or suffer injuries should be held accountable. The Sevierville truck accident lawyers at Delius & McKenzie, PLLC have the experience and resources to help you get justice. For help now, call us at (865) 428-8780 or complete our contact form. We proudly represent clients in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge.