If I Was Involved in a Commercial Vehicle Accident, is the Employer of the Driver Also Responsible?
Employers are generally responsible for a driver’s conduct when operating a commercial vehicle like an 18-wheeler. Because of this, lawsuits can be brought against the driver’s employer in addition to the driver when an accident results in damages or injuries.
When Can I Sue a Commercial Driver’s Employer?
As long as the truck driver is an employee of a commercial vehicle or trucking company, your lawsuit will seek damages from both the driver as well the company who employs driver. Texas law is very clear on this, stating that commercial vehicle companies are responsible for the negligent actions of their employees.
In addition to being responsible for driver negligence, commercial vehicle companies are also responsible for ensuring:
Their drivers have obtained and maintained proper licensing to operate a commercial vehicle
Their drivers have not committed any disqualifying criminal offenses that would compromise their CDL
Their drivers are in compliance with hours of service regulations at all times
Their vehicles are properly maintained and inspected regularly
Failure to adhere to these regulations or any others coded in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) can result in a trucking company being held responsible for your injuries.
In some cases, your attorney may decide it is best for you to sue the trucking company only and not the driver. This is because you are seeking compensation for your injuries and any other damages. While you may want to bring the driver to justice, limiting your lawsuit to the company might be the most financially viable action and the most likely to help you in your recovery.
What Should I Look Out for When Suing a Commercial Vehicle Company?
Most commercial vehicle companies will attempt to distance themselves from an accident and their own drivers in an attempt to limit their liability, even if this means throwing the employee under the bus. Commercial vehicle companies also employ teams of investigators and attorneys whose sole purpose is to challenge claims and reduce the amount of money that the commercial vehicle company has to payout.
Among the tactics commercial vehicle companies will use to dismantle your claim are:
Recorded Statements – The commercial vehicle company’s insurer will contact you after the accident requesting a recorded statement. While they claim this is to they can better understand your injuries and streamline the payout process, they are actually trying to get you on record saying something that harms you case. It is essential that you speak to an attorney before providing such a statement. Do not be bullied, you have no legal requirement to answer the insurer’s questions without the advice of your attorney.
Low Settlement Offers – The insurance company wants to settle your claim for as little as possible. They know that you are in a state of chaos and confusion and will take advantage of it. While it may be tempting, do not accept the insurers offer without consulting with your attorney first.
Destroying Evidence – Often times, a commercial vehicle company will attempt to destroy or alter records or evidence after an accident with the goal of hiding their mistakes. An attorney can file a court ordered temporary restraining order in order to preserve any and all evidence in the state that it was in at the time of your accident.
Not Ordering a Drug or Alcohol Test – Some companies will tell drivers involved in an accident not to submit to a drug or alcohol test if they think the driver was impaired when the crash occurred. The driver may feel pressured as being under the influence while behind the wheel can end their career. Federal regulations actually require drivers get tested following a crash. Still, the fine for violating this regulation is much less damaging that the repercussions of a trucker driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Delaying the Claim – May commercial vehicle companies will attempt to delay your claim in the hopes that you will lose the will and financial resources to fight. Thomas J. Henry has the money and manpower to see your case through to the end and knows how to drive a case forward.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Involved in a Commercial Vehicle Accident?
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury after being involved in an 18-wheeler accident, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. Our experienced commercial trucking injury attorneys are available to respond to semi-truck accidents at any hour, day or night. Our lawyers understand that the immediate acquisition of evidence is paramount to understanding how the accident occurred. We will take immediate action on your case. Remember, your choice does matter. Contact us today for a free legal consultation. Attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends.