Truck Accident Employer Negligence in California
Incidents involving trucks are all too common in the state of California. Unfortunately, trucking accidents can have very serious consequences and cause detrimental injuries that can negatively impact the lives of victims. In cases where trucks are involved in an accident, the truck company might be responsible and could be held liable for employer negligence.
If you have been in an accident with a semi-truck, you should hire an expert California truck accident attorney immediately. The big rig accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates have extensive experience in going after trucking companies for employer negligence following truck accidents. With multiple offices located in Irvine, Anaheim, Los Angeles, El Segundo, San Diego, and Riverside, our personal injury attorneys have successfully handled truck accident claims for victims across California. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with a lawyer, please call 949-727-9300.
What Constitutes Employer Negligence?
In some cases involving a truck accident, the employer or trucking company may actually be at fault. But if you’ve been involved in an incident with a truck, how do you know whether the employer is responsible or guilty of negligence? Trucking companies can exhibit negligence in several ways, including:
- Hiring a driver without a valid license
- Hiring an inexperienced driver
- Failing to train a driver adequately
- Retaining a driver that the company knows is not qualified
- Hiring a driver with a history of accidents and/or traffic violations
Unfortunately, the high demand for truck drivers nationwide has led to many truck companies putting new drivers in charge of trucks even if they know they are underqualified or might be irresponsible. Additionally, New drivers often lack adequate training or experience, which can significantly increase the risk of accidents due to an inability for drivers to react properly in dangerous situations. In addition, employers who hire drivers with a history of alcohol or drug abuse or who fail to conduct sufficient background checks on candidates may be indirectly responsible for a truck accident.
Employer Liability for Truck Driver Misconduct
Oftentimes, victims assume that corporations are not responsible for damages when a truck driver turns out to be an independent contractor. It would seem that such accidents would be the driver’s fault and not the company, but that isn’t the case. Regardless of who drives the trucks, trucking companies can be held accountable for accidents that are the driver’s fault.
Trucking companies may be held liable for damages in the following scenarios:
- If a company attempts to save money or time by cutting corners, it could cause a collision. For example, negligence regarding fleet maintenance, violation of the hours of service regulation, or rushing driver training.
- Employers are held liable when their employees act irresponsibly. It is the employer’s responsibility to monitor fatigued, drunk, and drowsy drivers on the road. If the driver was on duty at the time of the accident, the company could be held responsible for the collision.
- If a truck driver is an independent contractor, the trucking company may not be liable. However, in some circumstances, a company may be liable if an accident is the fault of an independently contracted driver who works full-time for a trucking company.
- If the accident is caused by the truck being improperly or insufficiently loaded, the company could be held responsible.
- It can be notoriously tricky to determine employer liability in truck accident cases. For this reason, accident victims can benefit from the expertise of a professional lawyer in California. Especially in cases involving truck drivers or insurance companies, an attorney will need significant evidence to hold the company liable.
Who Is Responsible for Improper Loading?
Having a poorly loaded whose load that falls into the road or causes the truck to shift off balance can cause serious accidents. As a result of losing a load, vehicles that follow the truck may be hit or may veer off the road. Passengers can all too easily be killed or seriously injured if the truck’s load breaks or the truck itself rolls over or veers into another lane due to unsecured cargo. Regulations on cargo securement are set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to ensure cargo safety during transport. If the trucking company didn’t properly secure the truck’s load, they can be liable for the accident. Failure to secure a load could include:
- Not using proper straps or tie downs
- Overloading or under-loading
- Stacking cargo in a dangerous manner
- Failure to use edge protection
- Failure to properly accommodate dangerous cargo
In the event of incorrectly loaded trucks, the company should be held accountable for its negligence. Truck accidents may be caused by non-compliance with FMCSA’s securement standards.
Is the Driver an Employee or Independent Contractor?
For the injured person to receive compensation, the driver must be shown to be an employee of the company. Typically speaking, trucking companies are not held responsible for the actions of independent contractors. However, in some cases, this may not be true. A professional lawyer will be able to determine if a trucking company can be held liable for the mistakes of an independently contracted driver. Usually, the driver needs to have been acting within the scope of employment of the trucking company for them to be held liable.
What Acts Are “Within the Scope of Employment”?
Defining what constitutes an act within the scope of employment can be tricky. Typically, the following is considered:
- The intent of the employee at the time of the accident
- What type of work the employee was hired for
- The amount of freedom allowed to the employee in performing duties
- The amount of time consumed in the personal activity.
- Nature, time, and place of the employee’s conduct
Holding a Trucking Company Responsible
Generally speaking, trucking companies typically carry higher insurance policies than private motorists. In cases involving a truck, injuries can be serious and require extensive, expensive treatment. Due to this, it’s often important that victims get the compensation that enables them to cover the costs of things like medical bills, lost wages, physical, emotional, and psychological trauma. Truck accident victims can seek full and fair compensation for their serious injuries when a trucking company is at fault. In order to seek proper compensation and hold a trucking company liable, victims typically need the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer.
Contact an Experienced California Truck Accident Employer Negligence Attorney
If you or a loved one has been in a big rig accident in California, you should discuss your legal options with an attorney, as you may be entitled to compensation. The California truck accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates can then help determine who is responsible for your truck accident.
With multiple offices located in Irvine, Anaheim, Los Angeles, El Segundo, San Diego, and Riverside, our personal injury lawyers represent truck accident victims across California. They have expertise in handling truck accident claims and know how to effectively go after a trucking company for employer negligence following a semi-truck accident. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with an attorney, please call 949-727-9300.