Carrier Liability In Trucking Accidents
Commercial truck accidents are different from accidents involving passenger cars in that a trucking company hires the driver involved in the accident. As the employer of the trucker, the trucking company (otherwise called a carrier) may bear legal responsibility regarding the truck drivers‘ activities, and also for the security of the trucks it possesses.
Liability turns out to be much more complicated, especially where different parties are involved. For instance, if a trucking company purposely contracted a driver with substance misuse issues or various past mishaps on his or her driving record, the trucking company may be held liable for carelessly employing or holding the driver. Some other ways in which a trucking company might be careless, and, thus, liable for victims’ injuries, include:
- Failing to routinely assess and perform maintenance on the trucks
- Failing to appropriately prepare drivers
- Failing to make sure that drivers adhere to regulations that limit driving hours.
- Failing to adhere to federal or Texas safety controls
- Being liable for the carelessness of its driver
When liability has been ascertained and proved, the plaintiff must show the degree of his or her injuries. This mostly involves expert witness’s testimony. A doctor will provide a therapeutic opinion that explains the extent of the harm the casualty endured in a trucking mishap. In most instances, the victim’s lawyers will also hire the services of economists to provide their opinion on damages revolving around loss of earning capacity, both in the past and future, and sensibly predicable care needs in future.
There have been various truck mishap cases in which trucking organizations have attempted to avoid liability by separating themselves from the vehicle, the driver, or any other equipment. In these cases, the truck company has acquired the relevant licenses required to operate the truck. For ownership purposes, however, the company is renting or leasing the equipment, tractors, and trailers from an operator/owner. Instead of hiring the drivers on a permanent basis, the trucking company procures them as independent contractors.
The trucking company then gives the operator/owner a bulletin with the permit numbers and name of the trucking company, and this makes it appears as if the professional trucking company possess the truck and the driver is a just an employee. Previously, a trucking company would contend that it is not responsible for the mistakes of a driver because the driver was not an employee, and does not possess the equipment, so the company was not in charge of maintenance.
Luckily, federal law put an end to this outlandish argument. Under the current laws, a trucking company is in charge of all truck accidents as long as the truck has the company’s name displayed on it, regardless of whether the driver was employed or not.
A comprehensive examination is essential in most truck mishaps to figure out what happened and why it had to. A trucking company is in charge of the trucks and the truck drivers takes the trucks to the road. In most instances, employee interviews or a carrier’s records indicate that trucking companies force employees to save money by not adhering to truck maintenance or FMCSA hours of service (HOS) limits. When this happens, the carrier will be held liable for accidents that occur.