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Who Is Responsible for Trucking Accidents: The Driver or the Carrier?

American truck driving through flat desert

When a semi-truck or any other commercial vehicle is involved in a crash, the truck diver may not be the only one responsible. Sometimes, a trucking company can hold liability in the crash as well. But what circumstances could lead to the company holding liability for a crash? Let’s find out.

Respondeat Superior

American law has an ancient Latin precedent called “respondeat superior,” which means “let the master answer.” This means that the company can be held responsible for damages caused by its employees if certain criteria are met.

To claim respondeat superior in a truck crash, the injured party must demonstrate that the crash was caused due to negligence or bad policy on the part of the company.

Examples of Respondeat Superior

Not every crash will be a case of respondeat superior. If the truck driver makes a driving error, for example, that probably wouldn’t qualify. Most cases where the carrier holds responsibility fall under these three categories.

Negligent Maintenance

Because trucks are on the road so long, they require more maintenance and replacement parts than other vehicles. The truck drivers are not expected to make these repairs themselves and often take their vehicles into the company shop for maintenance. If the company fails to identify maintenance issues and replace damaged parts, it could be held liable if those issues lead to a crash.

HOA Violations

A number of truck drivers feel pressured by management to go beyond their maximum daily driving hours to deliver cargo on schedule. If a crash was caused by a fatigued trucker who felt pressured by management to go beyond their hours of service, the trucking company might hold some responsibility for the crash.

Driver Inexperience

It is the trucking company’s responsibility to hire drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL), to train them, and to conduct random drug tests. If the trucking company does not properly train their driver or make due diligence to ensure they are safe to drive, they could hold liability in a crash.

If you or someone you love suffered severe injuries in an 18-wheeler crash, you might have a case. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Amarillo 18-wheeler accident attorney from Wood Law Firm LLP, please send us an email or call (806) 304-0447.