When an accident occurs between a commercial truck and passenger vehicle, the injuries and damages are often more severe than those that occur in a standard fender bender between two passenger vehicles.
Under Section 388 of the New York Vehicle Traffic Law, the driver of the truck, owner of the truck, and owner of the cargo trailer attached to the truck can be held “jointly and severally” liable for a truck accident.
However, trucking companies, often the truck driver’s employer, can also be held partially liable for the accident. Generally, the complaint will assert one or more of the following claims against a trucking company:
- Negligent hiring: Trucking company failed to conduct background checks, failed to ensure driver had appropriate license to operate the vehicle, or otherwise was negligent in hiring the driver responsible for the accident.
- Negligent training: Trucking company failed to provide necessary training for the driver involved in the accident.
- Vicarious liability: Under the legal theory of respondeat superior, trucking company was vicariously liable for negligent actions of its driver because the driver was within the course and scope of their employment when operating the truck at the time of the accident.
- Negligent truck maintenance: Trucking company failed to ensure its trucks were regularly inspected and properly maintained.
Defending against any of the above claims is challenging but can be done with the help of a skilled attorney. Some common truck and transportation liability defenses used to defend trucking companies include:
- Establishing that the truck driver was an independent contractor and not an employee of the trucking company.
- Establishing that the trucking company did not exercise control over driver.
- Establishing that the driver was not operating the truck within the course and scope of their employment (e.g., driver was using the truck without authorization to run personal errands).
- Disputing the nature and extent of the alleged victim’s injuries and damages.
If your company is on the wrong end of a truck accident claim, an attorney can help you defend against the allegations made in the injured party’s complaint.