One of the biggest challenges for people who have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck is determining who is liable for the damages. Even if it's obvious that the driver of the truck was at fault for the accident, he or she may not be liable for any damages owed to you. In some situations, the trucking company the individual drives for may be liable. Understanding some of the factors that contribute to determining liability is important. Here are a few things you should know before you reach out to a truck accident lawyer.
Is the Trucking Company Liable?
If the incident wasn't intentional on the part of the driver but happened while the driver was carrying out standard job duties, it may mean that the trucking company has the primary liability for the incident. The company's liability stems from the fact that the driver wouldn't have been in the situation at all if he or she hadn't been carrying out work tasks as assigned by the employer. As a result, any losses incurred due to the accident would be the company's responsibility.
Is The Driver an Employee or an Independent Contractor?
In order for the trucking company to be held liable for the accident, the driver must be an employee. If he or she is an independent contractor, the driver assumes liability in most cases. This is often declared in the work contract signed by the company and the driver. In order to determine who is considered liable for the accident, your attorney may request a copy of the independent contractor agreement signed by the driver.
If, on the other hand, the driver is listed in the employment records and can be shown as receiving payroll checks and W-2 statements every year, that's an indication that the individual is an employee, not an independent contractor. Your attorney will request employment records from the business if there are any questions about the driver's status.
What Activities Are Work Related?
Before you can consider the driver's employer liable for the accident, you have to show that the driver was carrying out work-related duties. This can be tough, so it's helpful to know what your attorney might consider as part of this.
For example, some of the things that need to be considered include the time, location and nature of the activities that the driver was carrying out. The attorney will also consider the types of tasks the driver was hired for and how much freedom he or she has to control the activities of each work day.
The driver's freedom in his or her schedule is a significant factor. If the driver is permitted to run personal errands while working, it's important to determine if he or she was on a personal errand at the time. That can leave the driver assuming the liability for the accident.
What About Intentional Actions?
If there is any evidence that the driver's actions were deliberate, that can eliminate the company's liability altogether. For example, if you have a personal history with the individual and he or she lashes out at you as a result, that's an indication that the incident was intentional. In those cases, the liability for the accident rests squarely with the driver, not the trucking company.
Any time you're in an accident, it's important that you have legal support to ensure that you are protected. No matter what happened, your attorney can help you navigate the court filings and the documentation if you need to file a case. Work with a commercial truck accident attorney to help you determine who is liable so that you can get the compensation that you deserve.
Visit a site like http://asmlegal.net/ for more information.