Your morning commute on the interstate is usually uneventful until the unthinkable happens — you are struck by an 18-wheeler. Truck accidents can cause major injuries. After all, a standard passenger vehicle simply cannot stand up to a semi-truck weighing tens of thousands of pounds. Now you are facing hefty medical bills and you are unable to work. For this reason, you may want to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. If so, it is important to understand who can be held liable for the losses you incurred in the trucking accident.
What is negligence?
Before we can talk about liability it is important to understand negligence. Personal injury lawsuits following a car crash are often based on negligence. There are five elements to a negligence claim. The first element is duty of care. All motorists owe a duty of care to other motorists to drive reasonably under the circumstances. The second element is breach. This means one motorist breached their duty of care generally by crashing into the other motorist. The third element is actual cause. This means that the breach was the cause of the crash and but for the breach, the crash would not have occurred. The fourth element is proximate cause. This means the accident was foreseeable. Finally, the fifth element is damages. This means you suffered some sort of loss or damages due to the crash.
Liability following a truck accident
When you are pursuing a negligence claim following a truck accident, it is important to hold all responsible parties liable for the damages you suffered. While the truck driver may seem like the obvious negligent party, the truck driver’s employer may also be held liable in certain circumstances. This is due to the legal doctrine known as “respondeat superior.” Basically, this means an employer is liable for the wrongful acts of employees if the act took place within the scope of employment. Generally, respondeat superior will apply if the employee’s action is performed often enough during the course of employment that it is a characteristic of the job. It is important to note that if the trucker’s relationship to the truck company is that of an independent contractor, respondeat superior will not apply.
Ultimately, you will want to name all possible defendants if you are pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. This can help you obtain all the compensation you are entitled to following a truck accident.