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Are Truckers Liable for the Accidents They Cause?

Because semi-trucks weigh so much, especially when they’re fully loaded, passenger sized cars and trucks don’t stand a chance against these monsters of the road. And usually when a big rig is in a serious crash with a regular vehicle, the semi-truck driver walks away unscathed while the occupants of the other vehicle are seriously injured or killed.

While truck accidents occur a lot less frequently than standard motor vehicle accidents, thousands still take place each year. Since truck drivers are prone to human error like anyone else, they’re often to blame for the truck accident.

Common truck driver errors leading to collisions include:

  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Driver inexperience
  • Taking a turn too fast
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Driving an overloaded truck
  • Driving a poorly maintained truck
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Texting while driving (a violation of federal law).

Assuming a truck driver is at-fault for an accident with a passenger car, truck or SUV, in that case, who is liable for the injured party’s damages? Is the truck driver responsible, or is the trucker’s employer liable?

If the truck driver is an employee, the truck driver’s employer would be liable for any damages incurred. On the other hand, if the truck driver is an independent contractor, then he or she would be financially liable for any damage they caused.

There is an exception to the rule: If the truck driver’s actions were intentional; for example, if the trucker kidnapped the victim, or if the trucker tried to run somebody over on purpose, the employer would not be liable. Employers are generally liable for accidental misconduct, not intentional acts.

Why Employers Are Liable

There are a number of reasons why employers are responsible for their truck driver’s accidents, including but not limited to:

  • Accidents are inevitable in business, so employers take responsibility for the mistakes made by their employees.
  • Employers have deeper pockets than employees, so they’re in a better position to shoulder the costs of truck accidents.
  • Employers carry insurance to cover the costs of the mistakes their employees make, and this insurance is paid for by the business.

If you were injured in a truck accident, our first step would be to find out if the truck driver was an employee or an independent contractor. Once we get the answer, we’ll know whether to pursue damages from the employer or the truck driver themselves.

Related: How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in South Carolina?

To file a truck accident claim in Columbia, SC, contact Masella Law Firm, P.A.