In a car accident, you typically sue the other car’s driver. In a truck accident, things can be confusing because the other driver may not be the only person you can sue if you were injured. Especially for severe injuries, a truck driver may not have the ability to pay you back – or may be seriously injured as well. In many cases, the truck driver was working when the accident happened – which means you can sue their employer as well as the driver. The Dallas, Texas trucking accident lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. may be able to help you with your case.
When Can You Sue a Trucking Company for a Truck Accident?
If you were injured in an accident with a large truck, the trucking company that owns the vehicle may be responsible for your injuries. The driver who was physically in the vehicle can be held responsible if they caused the crash, either through insurance or in a court of law. However, there are two main ways that the trucking company that hired them can also be responsible for the accident.
First, the trucking company is the driver’s employer, and can be held liable for problems their drivers create. Trucking companies are responsible for what their drivers do on the job. If they do something good for the business, like making a delivery safely and on-time, the employer benefits. If the driver does something bad, the employer should similarly face the consequences.
As long as a worker was acting within the scope of their employment when they injured you, you can usually sue their employer for injuries. This is known as “vicarious liability,” because you hold one person accountable for the actions of another. This legal doctrine, called “respondeat superior” allows you to reach through the driver to their employer when suing for injuries in a truck accident.
Alternatively, you may be able to sue the trucking company directly for their errors. Rather than reaching through the driver, a court may hold the carrier company liable for things they personally did to contribute to the crash. Since the trucking company likely owns and performs maintenance on the truck, accidents caused by equipment failures and errors may be their fault.
Trucking companies partly cause many accidents in other ways. Many companies push their drivers too hard, requiring long hours, tight deadlines, or overweight tractor-trailers. Many of these things violate federal trucking rules. If the trucking company pressures their drivers to break these rules, the company may be partly responsible for the accident. Things like failing to properly train the driver, keeping a driver with a bad driving history, or hiring a driver with serious DUI offenses may also be the company’s fault.
Filing a Case Against a Trucking Company for an Accident
As mentioned, there are two ways to reach the trucking company in a lawsuit. If you take the vicarious liability route, you only need to prove that the truck driver was working for the trucking company when the accident occurred. Many trucking companies may try to defend against this case by claiming that the driver was working outside the scope of their duties or violated company policy. However, this defense may not hold up if it is clear the driver was forced into acts that violate company policy, like speeding or overloading the vehicle.
Otherwise, suing the trucking company directly requires proving what they did wrong. If you are trying to prove they did not properly maintain the truck, your lawyer will need to have experts examine the truck. These experts can testify how these equipment failures caused the accident and what the trucking company should have done to avoid them.
If the trucking company failed to train the driver or kept a bad driver on staff, their driving record may be good evidence. A serious number of moving violations and other traffic tickets can show the driver was unfit for their job and should have been fired before they hurt someone. Additionally, a long history of drunk driving may be excellent proof that the company put a dangerous driver behind the wheel, especially if the driver was under the influence during the crash.
Other violations of federal trucking regulations may also help prove your case. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) writes laws that limit the hours a trucker can work, place limits on tractor-trailer weight and cargo loading, and place restrictions on drivers with medical conditions or bad driving records. If the company violated these rules, and you got hurt because of it, you may be entitled to sue. It may even entitle you to extra damages to punish the trucking company.
Dallas Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyer
Kevin Queenan of The Queenan Law Firm used to work in the trucking industry, and understands truck accident cases from all sides. If you or a loved one was injured in a trucking accident, or a loved one died in a truck crash consider taking your case to our Dallas personal injury lawyers today. For a free consultation on your case, call (817) 476-1797 today.