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Is the employer of a truck driver also liable in an accident?

Semi-truck accidents often have catastrophic injuries or deaths. The weight of the semi and trailer means it will take much longer to stop, and it also means the damage to other vehicle is often tremendous. If you or a loved one have been injured in a tractor-trailer accident that wasn’t your fault, who can you seek compensation from?

While the most obvious answer is the truck driver, there are other entities that might also be liable. One of these could be the truck driver’s employer. Employers can be held liable for some actions of their employees. If an employee performs a negligent act or neglects to perform an act to keep others safe while in the course of employment, then the employer can be held vicariously liable. This doctrine is called “respondeat superior,” and the key point is that the acts occurred or didn’t occur “in the course of employment.” In order for an act to considered part of employment, the employer has to authorize it or it has to be related so closely to an act the employer would have authorized that the employer should be held liable.

In a truck accident, if the fault of the accident is due to a driver speeding, then the employer could be held liable because it would an act closely related to the authorized act of driving. Other liable acts include negligent hiring or retention. The most common form of this occurs when an employee commits a criminal act when the employer should have known this might happen but were careless when hiring the employee.

Determining whom to hold liable for a truck accident can often be complex. An experienced attorney can review the evidence and determine who should be named as defendants in your personal injury lawsuit.

Source: FindLaw, “Vicarious Liability and Negligent Entrustment,” accessed Jan. 14, 2016

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