Truck driving accidents can be among the most vicious and devastating accidents on the road. Typically, semi-truck accidents occur on a highway, where both you and the truck driver are moving at a high-rate of speed. Errors made by truck drivers are what cause most trucking accidents. If you or a loved one was the victim of an accident with a semi-truck, you need to investigate the driver’s conduct, because the driver (and the company the driver was representing) may be at fault.
Why Do Truck Driving Accidents Occur
Truck driving accidents occur for a multitude of reasons. An accident may have occurred because the company hired an incompetent driver. A driver may have been intoxicated while driving, or it is possible that the driver was sleep deprived and not following the federal rules on the maximum number of hours a driver can work per shift. Any of these negligent acts can lead to a grave injury, which is why investigating a driver’s actions after an accident is so significant. A thorough investigation may indicate the exact reason why the accident occurred and who was to blame.
Some reasons for why traffic accidents involving semis occur are:
- Inadequate truck driver training and technique.
- Safety and erratic driving.
- Scheduling issues requiring drivers to disobey federal laws governing the amount of hours workable per shift.
- Compensation packages that reward drivers for faster route times.
What Should I Expect After An Accident Where The Truck Driver Is At Fault?
After all the facts are gathered, consult an experienced Arkansas commercial vehicle accident attorney. If you believe that the truck driver was at fault, it is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible so that there is no loss of evidence from the simple passage of time.
If a truck driver is at fault in an accident, there are multiple theories of liability that will solidify your cause of action against the defendants. A theory of liability is your argument as to why the defendant owed you a duty of care. It will explain how the defendant breached that duty, and why the defendant’s breach caused your injuries. After successfully pleading a theory of liability, a damages argument is made to display how you can be “made whole” again.
It is important to have a theory of liability against the driver and the company in accidents involving semi-trucks. This is important because multiple defendants allow a plaintiff to utilize multiple theories of liability, and also maximize possible damages, such as with insurance coverage. The theories of liability behind accidents involving consumer vehicles and semis include (1) negligent hiring, entrustment, supervision or retention (2) vicarious (employer) liability, and finally (3) broker liability.
Negligent Hiring, Entrustment, Supervision or Retention
Negligent hiring may be found where an employee had a reputation or record that demonstrated his or her propensity to act in a negligent behavior, and yet the employer still hired the employee. Sometimes, negligent hiring may occur where an employer did not use due diligence in hiring an employee. For example, take a truck driver who had been previously arrested for a DUI charge. All truck companies are required to run background checks on potential employees before hiring them to ensure that an employee does not have a driving offense record. If an employer fails to run a background check on a truck driver, or even worse, runs a background check and ignores it, then a negligent hiring argument may be fortuitous.
Negligent entrustment may also be argued in accidents involving semi-trucks. Negligent entrustment is a cause of action where an entrustor is held liable for negligence because they provided a third party with a dangerous instrumentality. Negligent entrustment may be found in truck accident cases because a semi-truck can be considered a dangerous instrument when given to a delinquent driver.
Negligent supervision occurs where an employer failed to train, or negligently trained, an employee, which otherwise would have prevented that employee from acting in an injury-prone behavior. If a truck company sends a new employee out onto the road without coaching him or her on proper business practices, then this may lead to negligent supervision.
Negligent retention is a claim in which an employer failed to discharge an employee, even though the employer knew or should have known that the employee had a propensity for malfeasant behavior. An example of this would be if an employer completely ignored the fact that a truck driver had his or her commercial driver’s license suspended.
Vicarious liability, put simply, is a theory of law in which a superior is responsible for the acts of a subordinate. This means that a third party (such as a truck company) has the right, ability, or duty to control the activities of a violator (employee truck driver).
Sometimes, truck drivers are considered independent from any company or employer. This makes theories of liability such as negligent supervision and negligent retention much more difficult to assert. Broker liability fills in the gaps where such claims as negligent supervision and negligent hiring are not completely applicable. If an independent truck company has inadequate insurance to cover your claim, a freight broker may provide additional coverage. A freight broker acts as a middleman between shipping services and an authorized carrier. Although the broker does not function as a shipper or carrier, it may still be liable depending on the facts of your case.
If a truck in has hit your car truck or SUV, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other losses. Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak can handle your trucking accident case strategically. For your free and confidential consultation, call (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.
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