Which Person(s) Can Be Held Liable for A Tractor-Trailer Crash?
Anyone who drives a vehicle has encountered hundreds of tractor-trailer on the road. Commercial trucking is important to both local commerce in North Carolina and commerce across the United States. We can all thank truckers and trucking companies for transporting the goods that we enjoy in our everyday lives. Sadly, the industry is also responsible for great numbers of serious Greensboro car accidents and crashes. Many of us have seen the wreckage of a tractor-trailer and smaller vehicle on the road. While most people agree with the idea that wrongdoers should be held accountable for their mistakes, people involved in tractor-trailer accidents are often surprised by some of the legal confusion involved in reaching that goal. Multiple insurance policies can apply. The trucking company often uses confusing ownership and leasing arrangements. Tractor-trailer drivers might be employees or independent contractors. Within, I will discuss some types of possible liability.
Some 18-wheeer crashes are caused by negligent actions of the 18-wheeler driver, for which he can be held liable. In North Carolina alone, in 2014, 1800 truck crashes occurred which resulted in great damage to a vehicle, injury, or even death. Reviews of these crashes show that they happened for a variety of reasons, including these:
- Driving above the speed limint
- Driver errors
- Driver tiredness
- Driving too fast for road condition
- Physical maladies or conditions of the driver
- Losing control of steering wheel while reaching for a personal item
Truck brokers are middle-men who put together carriers with those who need to run goods. These brokers complete paper deals. In other words, the broker never sees the thing being shipped, or the 18-wheeler carrying the items. Therefore, one might think that a broker cannot have any cause for a crash. However, brokers have been held accountable for failing to act correctly in performing a background check on a carrier. In fact, in one North Carolina case a North Carolina Jury awarded 4.2 million in damages for this kind of behavior . In that case, the plaintiff claimed that the trucking company failed to perform drug tests on drivers, and that the driver causing the crash was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
North Carolina law recognizes the idea of vicarious liability. In the context, the idea holds that an employer can be held responsible for the acts of an employee under many circumstances. It is often referred to as the master-servant rule. An element is that an employee must be serving within the scope of his employment. As an example, think of a truck driver who is an employee of a trucking company. If the truck driver is carrying a load as instructed by his employer and has a crash, the employer can be held responsible for the acts of the employee. Otherwise, if a truck driver is not on the clock, gets in a scuffle, and hits another person, his employer would successfully defend that vicarious liability should not be enforced because the employee’s fighting was not part of his employment.
Contact a Lawyer
North Carolina law supports the rule that bad actors in society should be held responsible for their bad actions. However, it is often more confusing than it first seems to determine exactly who is responsible for the crash. In this article, we addressed only a few of the types of issues to think about in a 18-wheeler crash. Sometimes, only one person may be held responsible. Sometimes, multiple people or entities may be liable.
Contact our Greensboro Car Accident Lawyers today if you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident in Greensboro, High Point or Asheboro.