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Delivery Truck Accidents: Who is Liable, Driver or Company?

Posted on: January 27, 2017 by Edwards & Patterson Law

delivery truck accidents

With an average of around 900 delivery truck accidents occurring every day in the US, injury is bound to happen. Unlike your average auto accident, commercial vehicles are a little more complicated. Although the driver may be the one who makes an error to cause an accident, the vehicle the driver is driving should be insured by the company that owns the truck.

Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability means that the business is liable for the acts of its employees. Even if the employee makes an error in judgement, so long as the employee is in the act of performing their expected duties, then the company assumes responsibility for any mishaps along the way.

This does not mean that an employee can drive in any manner they desire and not be held responsible. The law does provide exceptions beyond the company being the only responsible party, but there has to be substantiated proof to support negligence on part of the driver.

Exceptions to the Rule in Liability for Delivery Truck Accidents

There are some cases where a delivery truck driver would be responsible in an accident. If an employee is not preforming their duties, such as using the company truck to move their own personal property, then the business would not be responsible as the employee was not actually carrying out company business.

Another such case would be if it can be proved that the employee was intentionally negligent, as in a road rage case, then the driver would be liable, not the company. And, although not a cut-and-dried ordeal, if an employee is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the business may not be found liable if it can prove it had no reasonable reason to believe the driver would be partaking in any such behavior.

If the driver proves to be an independent contractor then the business they are working for will likely not be held responsible for the driver’s negligence, even if they are “working” for them at the time it occurs. An independent contractor is defined as where the employer controls the result of the work, not how it’s accomplished.

Every personal injury case is unique and not all “rules” apply to all situations. The law’s intent is to be fair to all and exceptions are interjected to enable the ability of the court to judge fairly. To be sure your case is processed in a way that rightly considers your individual needs, contact a personal injury attorney. Edwards & Patterson is in the Tulsa and McAlester area to help you.

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