When Is a Commercial Trucking Company Liable in an Accident?
Commercial trucking companies have several important duties and obligations. These entities must follow state and federal trucking regulations; ensure that their vehicles are in safe condition; and hire licensed and adequately trained drivers. Unfortunately, not all trucking companies uphold these responsibilities.
If you are injured in an accident caused by a trucking company’s negligence, you can file a claim against the entity and recover compensation for the losses that you suffered. There are several situations where a company could be liable for an accident, such as hours-of-service violations and failure to conduct regular maintenance.
Negligence Committed by an Employee
Under the theory of vicarious liability, employers are liable for any negligence committed by their employees while performing their job duties. If your truck accident was caused by the driver, the trucking company would also be liable if the driver was an employee.
However, many truck drivers are independent contractors rather than employees. In these situations, the company would not be liable for the accident unless its actions caused the collision.
Improper Training and Hiring Practices
Trucking companies must ensure that all of their drivers meet state and federal requirements for driving large commercial vehicles, including age and licensing guidelines. If a company hires an unlicensed or unqualified driver, it will be liable for any accidents that arise.
Additionally, the company must ensure to provide adequate training for its drivers. If the company allows an untrained driver to take a dangerous or advanced route, it may be liable for any accidents that occur.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck drivers are only allowed to drive a certain number of hours at a time. These hours-of-service regulations are designed to protect against drowsy or fatigued driving, which can be extremely dangerous.
However, some trucking companies set unrealistic expectations for their drivers and force them to drive more hours than allowed. If a driver causes an accident due to the stress and pressure of this schedule, the company would be liable as well.
Improper Maintenance, Inspections, and Repairs
Federal and state guidelines require commercial trucking companies to ensure that their vehicles are in safe working condition. As a result, these companies must regularly inspect, maintain, and repair their fleet of vehicles and keep detailed logs of these activities.
If a trucking company fails to properly maintain its vehicles, serious accidents can occur. In these situations, the entity would be liable for any collisions.
Contact a South Carolina Truck Accident Lawyer
Proving a trucking company’s negligence can be a complex task. These cases often involve a great deal of investigation and knowledge of the trucking industry. You may need to obtain evidence from the entity that could be difficult to get, such as driving logs and maintenance records.
In these situations, you need an attorney on your side who can represent your case and prove the trucking company’s negligence. A South Carolina truck accident lawyer will have the resources and authority to gather relevant evidence, file your claim in civil court, and advocate aggressively for your right to compensation.
As soon as possible following your accident, contact an attorney to discuss your legal options and take your first steps toward holding the trucking company accountable.