Every day in the United States, trucking fleet controllers push their drivers beyond their physical limits and sometimes beyond their hours of service regulations. This results in several hundred devastating and preventable truck accidents every year. That raises an interesting question: Who is responsible for truck accidents? The driver, the company, or both?
The Master Answers
Under US law, employers are typically responsible for the actions of their employees done in the regular course of work. This is called “Respondeat Superior” (Latin for “The Master Answers”). This means that if an employee is instructed to break the law or if breaking the law is part of their normal duties, then the employer would be responsible.
For example, if a truck fleet controller told their driver to drive beyond their maximum hours of service, and the truck driver was involved in an accident, the company would likely hold liability. The controller instructed the driver to break the law, and the driver followed orders.
An Issue of Agency
Many drivers or families of drivers involved in truck accidents find themselves wondering which company is responsible for the accident. Many commercial vehicles have well-known brand names painted on their shipping containers. However, seeing a truck marked “Walmart” does not mean that Walmart holds liability in the accident.
Major companies, like grocery stores, use trucking agencies to deliver their goods. However, they are not themselves responsible for accidents caused by trucking agencies or their drivers.
There are some exceptions to this in cases if the company owns its own trucks. However, even companies with private fleets may use a combination of their own trucks and agency trucks. For that reason, those hurt in a truck accident should always consult an experienced auto injury attorney.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries or even wrongful death in a truck accident, we are here for you. If you’d like an experienced Gulfport auto accident attorney from Gulf South Law Firm to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (228) 231-3989.