Who pays for damages after a truck accident?
Few accidents on the road can be as absolutely destructive as an accident with a commercial truck. These large eighteen wheelers can smash a smaller car to pieces while barely sustaining any damage themselves. In the aftermath of the accident, victims can be left with many questions, especially if the accident was the fault of the truck driver. Perhaps the biggest question that will be on the victim’s mind is who will pay for the damage and injuries that were the fault of the driver. A truck accident attorney Dekalb County GA is proud to have working for its community may be able to guide you through this type of legal matter.
Under the law, a company is responsible for the actions of their employees, assuming they are acting within the responsibilities of their job. Applying this principal, the employer of the truck driver would be responsible for any damage caused by the negligence of the driver in an accident.
However, many truck drivers do not work directly for an employer and are considered independent contractors, which is an important legal distinction. Independent contractors have much more freedom to operate as they choose, and the law does not hold a company legally liable for the negligence of an independent contractor. If the driver owns their own truck, pays for the costs of maintenance, and is paid by the company on a per job basis, then they are an independent contractor. In the aftermath of an accident, it will be very difficult or impossible to seek compensation for damages from the company who hired them.
Another important distinction to make is whether the driver was acting within the scope of their responsibilities when the accident took place. Even if it can be established that the driver was an employee of the trucking company, the company can only be held responsible for damages caused in an accident if the truck driver was actively hauling freight to a destination at the time. If the driver had decided to take a detour or drive home early, then the employer will not be considered liable for the driver’s negligence, as they were acting in their own individual capacity.
If you have been involved in an accident involving a commercial truck, contact a skilled truck accident attorney as soon as possible. An experienced truck accident attorney will be able to determine whether the best case will be against the driver or the employer, and can ensure that you receive the compensation you need to fix the damage caused by the negligent driving of the truck driver.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their information on commercial truck accident law.