What Is Vicarious Liability for a Truck Accident?

Semitruck Traveling on HighwayVicarious liability is the legal principle that one person can be liable for the negligent acts of someone else. This notion usually comes up in the context of an employer having to pay for the harm an employee caused. If the employee of a trucking company causes a crash, for example, the company might be liable for the damages that result.

For help understanding vicarious liability for a truck accident, contact Max Meyers Law at 425-242-5595 today. Truck accident lawyer Max Meyers can help you navigate the legal process to recover compensation after a crash in Washington.

When Can I Hold a Company Liable for a Truck Crash?

There are two main ways an employer is liable for the damages an employee caused.

“But For”

If the employer had not put the driver on the road, the accident would not have happened. In other words, but for the company hiring the driver to operate the large truck, the driver would not have collided with another vehicle. The “but for” category of vicarious liability does not always require carelessness on the part of the employer.

Negligence of the Company

Trucking companies have responsibilities to the public, such as:

  • Hiring competent drivers;
  • Training staff;
  • Supervising drivers; and
  • Maintaining trucks in safe, roadworthy condition.

If a trucking company is negligent in the performance of its duties, it might be responsible for the truck accident that occurred as a result.

How Can a Trucking Company Be Negligent?

If a trucking company fails to perform its duties to the public, it could constitute negligence. Here are a few examples of ways the employer can be careless in the performance of its duties.

Negligent Hiring of Drivers

When a company hires people to drive large trucks, the employer has a duty to keep the driving public safe from harm. The trucking company should perform a thorough background check and examine the driving record and criminal background of any potential hire. For example, if a trucker has a conviction for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol on his record, but the employer did not check his driving record or do a criminal background check, the employer can be liable if the trucker drinks on the job and causes a wreck.

Negligent Training of Drivers

An experienced driver can pass a criminal background check and have a clean driving record, and still not be appropriate to put on the road. If the driver’s experience was with a different type of truck, for example, the trucking company must train them to operate a new vehicle. If a driver’s lack of training causes a wreck, the employer might be liable.

Negligent Supervision of Drivers

A trucking company should supervise its drivers to discover problems quickly. For example, the employer should create a system to alert them when their drivers get speeding tickets, DUIs, or have accidents. The trucking company must also respond at once to these issues to get unsafe drivers off the road. If an employer fails to notice or respond to “red flags,” they could be vicariously liable for any damages that occur.

Failing to Maintain the Trucks in Safe Condition

If a trucking company does not keep its vehicles adequately maintained, it could be responsible for damages if poor maintenance causes or contributes to a wreck. For example, a company that cuts corners by sending drivers out in trucks with bald tires or defective brakes will be responsible if those parts fail and cause an accident. A trucking company should maintain an inspection and maintenance schedule for all vehicles. If a company fails to keep up with regular maintenance or hires unqualified, inexperienced people to service the trucks, it could constitute negligence.

Non-Compliance With Federal Trucking Regulations

If the employer participates in or ignores violations of federal trucking regulations, and those violations lead to an accident, the trucking company can be liable. It can be tempting to exceed the weight restrictions or have drivers stay behind the wheel more hours than allowed. In situations like this, there are often multiple parties at fault.

Why Should I Hold the Trucking Company Vicariously Liable for My Damages?

Truck crash victims often face serious injuries, which are expensive to treat. By filing a claim with the trucking company’s large general liability insurance policy, you stand a better chance of recovering enough compensation to pay for all of your damages. If you only hold the truck driver responsible, you will have to look to their vehicle insurance policy to pay you compensation.

At Max Meyers Law, we only handle transportation-related claims. We have experience handling truck accident claims in Washington. We can answer whatever questions you have about your claim. Call us at 425-242-5595 for your free consultation.

Max Meyers
Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.