Semi truck accidents happen every day on our nation’s highways, for a variety of reasons. When someone is hurt, or there is extensive damage to property caused by an accident involving a tractor trailer, dealing with the aftermath can become quite complex. Proving liability in at-fault I-45 semi truck wrecks frequently requires the assistance of expert trucking accident lawyers, as these cases often end up in court. There can be multiple responsible parties behind every trucking accident, and identifying which of those parties is responsible can be a challenge.

Multiple Parties – Who Is Liable?

Although semi truck wrecks may seem like any other accident, an accident involving a commercial truck is actually very different as there are generally multiple parties to be considered when determining fault. The trucking company who owns the unit involved may seem like the obvious answer, but this is not always the case. Depending on whether the driver is an employee of the company or an owner-operator, along with many other details relating to the actual employment agreement, liability for semi truck accidents could involve one or both parties, among others.

Employee or Owner-Operator?

Trucking accident lawyers assert the first thing that must be determined in deciding legal liability, is whether the driver involved in the accident is an owner-operator, working as an independent contractor, or if they are a regular employee of the company. Technically, a driver is considered as an employee if the company controls not only the job, but how it is done – including vehicle care, ownership of the vehicle, payment of expenses, paycheck, and other employee-related details. If a company’s only concern is ensuring the delivery is made, however the driver decides to do it; and the company does not own the truck, withhold taxes from pay, pay any expenses or benefits – the driver is likely to be considered as an independent contractor. However, there can be a great variation in these arrangements, so determining the relationship between a driver and a company can be more challenging – and is much more important.

When Is a Company Liable for Damages?

A company is usually responsible for the actions and wrongdoings of their drivers, when those drivers operate under the normal definition and scope of employment, and as long as any wrongdoing was unintentional. But defining scope of employment can be challenging on its own. However, based on factors such as what the driver was hired to do, as well as the time, place and details involved in circumstances of the trucking accident, the driver’s intent, and whether their relationship with a company is as an employer-employee – it must be determined whether the driver was acting as an employee at the time of the accident, or if they acted on their own. Also, if for some reason a driver’s actions were intentional, a company is usually relieved from liability.

The question of whether a company or a driver is liable for damages concerning a trucking accident is complicated enough. In some situations, even other parties – like truck part and tire manufacturers, road designers and others can be a party to a legal case involving I-45 semi truck wrecks. To better deal with the insurance company, and for the best legal protection concerning those responsible, anyone injured in a semi truck accident should consult with skilled trucking accident lawyers, who can help them in obtaining the best settlement or damages award possible!


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