Independent Contractors Can be Held Liable for Truck Accidents in Texas
If you were injured in a truck accident, the last thing you may be thinking is, “I wonder if that truck driver is self-employed.” Ultimately, though, this question could have enormous consequences for your truck accident case. If you were severely injured, you may need to take the truck driver who injured you to court to seek compensation. If the truck driver was an employee of a larger company, the trucking company may be forced to pay for their employee’s accident. However, if the truck driver was self-employed or an independent contractor, it may be more complicated to hold a trucking company responsible. Either way, you can still sue the driver directly. The Dallas truck accident attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm, P.C., will explain how these kinds of cases work.
Suing a Self-Employed Truck Driver for Accidents
If a truck driver is an independent contractor, the lawsuit against them may work just like most typical car accident lawsuits. In the typical case, if you were injured by another driver, you either file through insurance for compensation or you take that driver to court. In court, the jury determines who was at fault and how much your injuries are worth, and the other driver (or their insurance company) is forced to pay you for your injuries. In the case of an average person, the damages may be too high for them to afford.
For a truck driver, the damages may be more affordable. If a truck driver is an independent contractor, they may be covered by auto insurance and business liability insurance that help them afford damages if they injure someone in a truck accident. This may mean that an independent contractor is covered and can afford to compensate you for the injuries they cause.
In most cases, you may be entitled to three main areas of damages. First, medical costs to treat your injuries may be completely covered if you take your case to court. Second, the wages you miss if you have to leave work – or are too injured to go back to work – may be reimbursed. Lastly, you might be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering from truck accident injuries.
Suing Trucking Companies for an Independent Contractor’s Truck Crash
If the truck driver who hit you was not an independent contractor, but worked for a large trucking company, you may be able to sue the trucking company for injuries. A legal doctrine called “respondeat superior” allows an injured person to sue the company that hurt them, not just the individual worker who caused the injuries. Under this theory, employees are often held liable for the injuries their employees cause while on the job. As long as the accident occurred while they were working within the scope of their duties, such as driving a truck, you can often hold big trucking companies liable for their drivers’ errors.
If the driver was an independent contractor, there is likely a break between the driver and any trucking company. If they are not direct employees, this rule generally does not work. However, the contract between the contract driver and the trucking company may help victims sue the trucking company as well as the contractor. If the contract says that the contractor is responsible for any liability, then the trucking company may be unreachable in a lawsuit. However, if the contract between the contractor and the trucking company says that the trucking company (or their insurance carrier) will cover any injuries the contractor causes, you can bring both parties to court.
Contractors may also fall within a trucking company’s ranks in other ways. For instance, if the contract driver’s sole client is a particular trucking company, they may not actually function as an independent contractor. Similarly, if the trucking company controls the driver’s actions in other ways, such as by owning the truck or specifying the driver’s route, work hours, speed limit, etc., they may have been responsible for decisions that caused the accident. In cases like this last example, the trucking company may have personally done something to cause the accident, such as failed to perform maintenance on the truck or overloaded it with too much cargo. If the trucking company’s actions contributed to the crash, they may be liable for their share of damages.
Truck Accident Lawyers in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area
The Dallas personal injury lawyers at The Queenan Firm help injured truck accident victims get the compensation they need to pay for medical expenses, keep their family provided-for, and compensate their pain and suffering. If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, talk to our Texas personal injury lawyers today. For a free consultation on your case, call (817) 476-1797 today to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.