Truck accidents can have devastating consequences for the drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles that are struck by the big rig, or in its vicinity. Usually, box trucks, big rigs, and 18-wheelers are used for business purposes rather than personal purposes. This is an important feature of truck operation, since it means that someone besides the truck driver may be responsible for any damages. In some cases, the trucker is an employee, while in other cases the trucker is a contractor. Depending on the situation, you may be able to sue not only the individual driver but also the trucking company under the doctrine of vicarious liability. After a collision in the Dallas area, you can contact the truck accident lawyers at Feizy Law Office to discuss the details of your case and determine your legal strategies.Seeking to Establish Vicarious Liability
Vicarious liability does not arise naturally in a lawsuit. It has to be specifically pled and proven by the plaintiff. It arises when an employee hurts someone due to negligence or other misconduct while in the course of employment. There must be a business connection between the truck involved in the accident and the owner of the truck, and the driver must be on the job and acting in the course of his or her employment, rather than conducting a personal activity.
An employer, usually a trucking company, can potentially be held vicariously liable for the injuries caused by the employee in the course and scope of his or her employment. Suppose for example, that a company hires a tractor-trailer driver who delivers special packages, and while driving from delivery stop to the next, he gets distracted and rear-ends someone else. That driver can directly sue the individual trucker for negligence and allege vicarious liability against the employer.
On the other hand, suppose a driver goes to buy a slice of pizza on his rest break, and while pulling into a parking spot he crashes into another driver angling for the same spot. In that case, the driver was not in the "course and scope" of employment at the time of the accident. The trucking company may not be vicariously liable for the accident in that situation.
This is a critical issue because not all truck drivers' insurance policies have sufficient coverage for the kinds of catastrophic injuries that arise in truck accident cases. Business owners not only have better insurance coverage but also have significantly more financial resources from which to pay your damages. Being able to allege vicarious liability can make the difference between getting only enough to cover medical bills and being able to afford the life-long care that may be necessary in the event of paralysis or a traumatic brain injury.
The purpose of vicarious liability is to make sure that the principal (usually an employer) answers for an agent's (usually an employee’s) negligence, since the principal was benefiting from the agent's activity. There are some situations in which vicarious liability can be imposed outside an employment relationship. Basically, it applies when a superior is held responsible for a subordinate's acts performed for the superior's benefit, when the superior has the duty to control the subordinate's activities. For example, if a truck driver loans his son the tractor-trailer to go pick up cough medicine, and the son crashes the tractor-trailer into someone else, the truck driver can potentially be held vicariously liable for the son's conduct.Explore Your Options with a Dallas Lawyer after a Motor Vehicle Collision
If you are involved in a truck accident, you may need to allege vicarious liability against a trucking company. In most cases, the trucking company will have experienced and knowledgeable representation, and it will do whatever is possible to show that the truck driver was not actually its agent, or that you were to blame. Our motor vehicle collision attorneys understand the trucking industry and can aggressively advocate for Dallas residents who have been harmed by the carelessness of drivers or companies. Call Feizy Law Office at (214) 651-8686 or reach us via our online form for a free consultation. We also represent accident victims in other Texas cities, including Plano, Irving, Garland, Fort Worth, and Arlington.