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Is the Truck Driver or Trucking Company at Fault for My Accident?

Sep 18, 2017 | Truck Accident

Accidents involving commercial trucks are some of the most dangerous on the road. If you were involved in a crash with a commercial vehicle, you should contact the Alabama trucking accident lawyers with Belt, Bruner & Barnett to help establish who is at fault for the accident. Semi-trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds and can cause serious damage, injuries, and death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated 4,311 crashes involving large trucks or buses occurred in 2015, an 8 percent hike over 2014’s statistics.

Employee vs. Independent Contractor

If a truck driver causes an accident, there is the question of whether the driver or the trucking company can be held liable. When determining responsibility for a truck accident, you first must establish whether the driver is employed by the company or works as an independent contractor on behalf of the company. A trucking company may not be liable for the actions of an independent contractor; if that is the case, the driver is held responsible. An employee of a trucking company who was acting within the scope of their employment can be held responsible, but their company may also be considered at fault.

Sometimes, accidents are caused because the truck itself failed. A driver may do everything right, but a blown tire, faulty brakes, or engine trouble can cause them to lose control and crash. In this instance, the owner of the truck and even the manufacturer may even be held accountable for neglecting to properly inspect and repair the truck.

Acting In the Scope of Employment

Employees acting “within the scope of employment” can be a vague statement, but it’s important to determine the employee’s intent when the accident occurred. For example, if an employee is performing a work-related task, such as making a delivery, that employee is performing the duties of their employment, and the company for whom they work can be considered partially to blame. However, if the employee left work early to attend an extracurricular activity, then it can be argued that the employee is strictly liable since they were driving a work vehicle but not actually working.

Proving Negligence

The majority of all accidents are caused by negligent driving. People who drive while eating or talking or texting on their phones, as well as those who speed or drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol tend to cause wrecks more frequently than their sober, attentive counterparts.

Commercial trucking is different in that it is regulated by federal laws. Truck drivers need to keep log books outlining their routes and the amount of hours they were on the road. They also go through drug testing and medical exams to ensure they are physically capable of doing their jobs. Yet truckers on shipment deadlines often drive for long hours, sometimes through the night, which can mean they are on the road even if they’re too fatigued to drive.

In any personal injury case, you have to prove the driver who caused the accident was negligent in their actions. Helpful evidence could be contained in their log books or any electronic equipment on their rigs that keeps track of their driving hours. If the log says they were off the road when the crash occurred, it can be used to make the case that the trucker was driving when they should have been resting.

Speak To an Alabama Trucking Accident Lawyer

The most important thing you can do after a truck accident is to take care of your injuries. Contacting an experienced trucking accident lawyer is a crucial second step. The attorneys at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. have helped numerous residents in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, and Montgomery get the compensation they deserve after these deadly accidents.

For a free evaluation of your case, call us today at (205) 933-1500.